About Chile travel information, attractions, hotels, tourist guide and directory of Chile tours services

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Chile general information

Full country name: Republic of Chile

Area: 748,800 sq km

Population: 15.5 million

Capital City: Santiago (pop 5,000,000)

People: 95% European descent & mestizo, 5% Indian

Language: Aymara, Spanish, Rapanui

Religion: 89% Roman Catholic, 10% Protestant, less than 1% Jewish

Government: republic

Head of State: President Ricardo Lagos Escobar


Facts for the Traveler

Visas: Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most Western European countries do not require a visa although US citizens do pay a 100.00 levy (cash only). Canadians pay a 55.00 levy and Australians 34.00, while there is no levy for EU or New Zealand residents. A 90-day entry permit, renewable for another 90 days, is received on entering the country.

Time Zone: GMT/UTC -4

Dialling Code: 56

Electricity: 220V ,50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric


Geography Chile


Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru 

Geographic coordinates: 

30 00 S, 71 00 W 

Map references: 

South America 


total: 756,950 sq km 

land: 748,800 sq km 

water: 8,150 sq km 

note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez 

Area - comparative: 

slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana 

Land boundaries: 

total: 6,171 km 

border countries: Argentina 5,150 km, Bolivia 861 km, Peru 160 km 


temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south 

Terrain: low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east

Elevation extremes: 

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m 

highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m


People Chile


15,823,957 (July 2004 est.) 

Age structure: 

0-14 years: 25.8% (male 2,090,165; female 1,996,972) 

15-64 years: 66.3% (male 5,235,061; female 5,261,820) 

65 years and over: 7.8% (male 515,698; female 724,241) (2004 est.) 

Median age: 

total: 29.8 years 

male: 28.9 years 

female: 30.7 years (2004 est.) 

Ethnic groups: 

white and white-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 3%, other 2% 


Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 11%, Jewish negligible 




definition: age 15 and over can read and write 

total population: 96.2% 

male: 96.4% 

female: 96.1% (2003 est.)


Government Chile

Country name: 

conventional long form: Republic of Chile 

conventional short form: Chile 

local long form: Republica de Chile 

local short form: Chile 

Government type: 




Administrative divisions: 

13 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Atacama, Bio-Bio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso 

note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica 


18 September 1810 (from Spain) 

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 18 September (1810) 


11 September 1980, effective 11 March 1981, amended 30 July 1989, 1993, and 1997 

Flag description: 

two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red stands for the blood spilled to achieve independence; design was influenced by the US flag


Economy Chile

Economy - overview: 

Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the recession in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 4.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.1% in 2001 and 2.1% in 2002, largely due to lackluster global growth and the devaluation of the Argentine peso, but recovered to 3.2% in 2003. Unemployment, although declining over the past year, remains stubbornly high, putting pressure on President LAGOS to improve living standards. One bright spot was the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004. In 2004, GDP growth is set to accelerate to more than 4% as copper prices rise, export earnings grow, and foreign direct investment picks up. 

Ports and harbors: 

Antofagasta, Arica, Chanaral, Coquimbo, Iquique, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, San Antonio, San Vicente, Talcahuano, Valparaiso 

Merchant marine: 

total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 725,216 GRT/954,519 DWT 


363 (2003 est.)


Military Chile

Military branches: 

Army of the Nation, National Navy (including Naval Air, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps), Air Force of the Nation, Chilean Carabineros (National Police) 

Military manpower - military age and obligation: 

18 years of age for compulsory military service; all citizens 18-45 are obligated to perform military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months for Army, 24 months for Navy and Air Force (2004)


Transnational Issues Chile

Disputes - international: 

Bolivia has reactivated its claim to the Atacama corridor ceded to Chile in 1884 to secure sovereign maritime access for Bolivian natural gas; dispute with Peru over the economic zone delimited by the maritime boundary; Beagle Channel islands dispute resolved through Papal mediation in 1984, but armed incidents persist since 1992 oil discovery; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims 

Illicit drugs: 

important transshipment country for cocaine destined for Europe and the US; economic prosperity and increasing trade have made Chile more attractive to traffickers seeking to launder drug profits, especially through the Iquique Free Trade Zone, but a new anti-money-laundering law improves controls; imported precursors passed on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising


Sources : Cia world fact book and lonely planet travel guides