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Chile (chĭlˈē, Span. chēˈlā), officially Republic of Chile, republic (2020 est. pop. 19,116,201), 292,256 sq mi (756,945 sq km), S South America, west of the continental divide of the Andes Mts. Chile is bordered by Peru on the north, Bolivia on the northeast, Argentina on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west and south. Santiago is the capital and the largest city.


A long narrow strip of land (no more than c.265 mi/430 km wide) between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, Chile stretches c.2,880 mi (4,630 km) from near lat. 18°S to Cape Horn (lat. 56°S), including at its southern end the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego, an island shared with Argentina. In the Pacific Ocean are Chile's several island possessions, including Easter Island, the Juan Fernández islands, and the Diego Ramírez islands. Chile also claims a sector of Antarctica.

The country is composed of three distinct and parallel natural regions—from east to west, the Andes, the central lowlands, and the Coast Ranges. The Chilean Andes contain many high peaks and volcanoes; Ojos del Salado (22,539 ft/6,870 m high) is the second highest point in South America. Chile is located along an active zone in the earth's crust and experiences numerous earthquakes, some of great magnitude. The rivers of Chile are generally short and swift-flowing, rising in the well-watered Andean highlands and flowing generally west to the Pacific Ocean; the Loa and Baker rivers are the longest, but those in the central portion of the country are much more important because of their use for irrigation and power production.

The climate, which varies from hot desert in the north through Mediterranean-type in the central portion to the cool and humid marine west coast type in the south, is influenced by the cold Peruvian (or Humboldt) Current along the coast of N Chile and by the Andes. Precipitation increases southward; the desert in the north is practically rainless, while S Chile receives abundant precipitation throughout the year. However, along the coast of N Chile high humidity and dense fogs modify the desert climate. The Andes are an orographic barrier, and the western slopes and the peaks receive much precipitation; permanently snowcapped mountains are found along Chile's length.

In N Chile is the southern portion of the extensive desert zone of W South America. It is occupied mainly by the sun-baked Desert of Atacama, which, toward the south, gradually becomes a semiarid steppe with limited vegetation. The barren landscape of the north extends from the coast to the Andes, where snowcapped peaks tower above the desert. The Loa River is N Chile's only perennial stream. The region's scanty population is concentrated along the coast and in oases; the ports of Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta (the chief link between Bolivia and the Pacific), the mining towns of Calama and Coplapó, and the industrial town of La Serena are the chief population centers. The people of the region are almost totally dependent on supplies from the outside. N Chile, the economic mainstay of the nation, is rich in a variety of minerals, including copper, nitrates, iron, manganese, molybdenum, gold, and silver. Chuquicamata, one of the world's largest copper-mining centers, long produced much of Chile's annual output, but the mine at Escondida now surpasses it.

The middle portion of the country, roughly between lat. 30°S and 38°S, has a Mediterranean-type climate and fertile soils, and is the nation's most populous and productive region as well as the political and cultural center. It contains Chile's largest cities—Santiago, Valparaiso (the seat of the Chilean congress), and Concepción. Mineral deposits (in particular copper, coal, and silver) are found in central Chile, and the rivers, especially the Biobío, have been harnessed to generate electricity; hydroelectricity is responsible for 70% of Chile's power. The region, the most highly industrialized section of Chile, produces a large variety of manufactured products, especially in and around Santiago, Concepción, and Valparaiso (which is also Chile's chief port). Between the Andes and the Coast Ranges is the Vale of Chile, a long valley divided into basins by Andean spurs. The valley is the heart of the republic, having the highest population density and the highest agricultural and industrial output.

S Chile, extending from the Biobío River to Cape Horn, is cold and humid, with dense forests, heavy rainfall, snow-covered peaks, glaciers, and islands. Sections of this region, which is in the direct path of moist westerly winds, receive more than 100 in. (254 cm) of precipitation annually. Because of subsidence of the earth's crust, the Coast Ranges and the central lowlands have been partially submerged, forming the extensive archipelago of S Chile, an area of craggy islands (notably Chiloé), numerous channels, and deep fjords. The Chilean lake district is a noted resort area. Although all of S Chile is forested, only the drier northern part has exploitable timber resources; Puerto Montt and Temuco are major timber-handling centers. The rest of the region is a wilderness of midlatitude rain forest, which has been extensively logged. Pollution and erosion have added to the environmental threat. Because of the climate, agriculture is limited; oats and potatoes are the chief crops. Livestock raising (cattle and pigs) is an important activity. A portion of extreme S Chile lies in the rain shadow of the Andes and is covered by natural grasslands; extensive sheep grazing is carried on, with wool, mutton, and skins the chief products. Cattle are also raised. This area also yields petroleum. Valdivia, a port on the Pacific Ocean, is the fourth largest industrial center of Chile; Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan is the world's southernmost city.


The majority of Chile's population is mestizo, a result of frequent intermarriage between early Spanish settlers and indigenous inhabitants. Many Chileans are also of German, Italian, Irish, British, or Yugoslav ancestry. Three small indigenous groups are still distinguishable—the Araucanians of central Chile (the largest and long the strongest group), the Changos of N Chile, and the Fuegians of Tierra del Fuego. Chile is predominantly urban, with more than a third of the total population concentrated in and around Santiago and Viña Del Mar. Nearly 90% of the people are at least nominally Roman Catholic. Spanish is the country's official language.


Chile's economy is based on the export of minerals, which account for about half of the total value of exports. Copper is the nation's most valuable resource, and Chile is the world's largest producer. Agriculture is the main occupation of about 15% of the population; it accounts for about 6% of the national wealth, and produces less than half of the domestic needs. The Vale of Chile is the country's primary agricultural area; its vineyards are the basis of Chile's wine industry. Grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, and beans are the chief crops. Livestock production includes beef and poultry. Sheep raising is the chief pastoral occupation, providing wool and meat for domestic use and for export. Fishing and lumbering are also important economic activities. Chile's industries largely process its raw materials and manufacture various consumer goods. The major products are copper and other minerals, processed food, fish meal, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transportation equipment, and textiles.

The dependence of the economy on copper prices and the production of an adequate food supply are two of Chile's major economic problems. Chile's main imports are petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, and natural gas, but beginning in the 2010s it sought to reduce its need for imported fossil fuels by developing solar, wind, and geothermal energy projects. In addition to minerals, it also exports fruit, fish and fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, and wine. The chief trading partners are the United States, China, Brazil, Argentina, and South Korea.


Chile is governed under the constitution of 1981 as amended. It is a multiparty democracy with a directly elected president who serves a four-year term (six-year prior to the constitutional amendments of 2005). The president may not be elected to consecutive terms. The bicameral legislature consists of a 38-seat Senate, whose members are elected to serve eight-year terms, and a 120-seat Chamber of Deputies, whose members are elected for four years. Members of both houses are elected from two-seat districts. Administratively, Chile is divided into 13 regions.


Early History

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th cent., the Araucanians had long been in control of the land in the southern part of the region; in the north, the inhabitants were ruled by the Inca empire. Diego de Almagro, who was sent by Francisco Pizarro from Peru to explore the southern region, led a party of men through the Andes into the central lowlands of Chile but was unsuccessful (1536) in establishing a foothold there. In 1540, Pedro de Valdivia marched into Chile and, despite stout resistance from the Araucanians, founded Santiago (1541) and later established La Serena, Concepción, and Valdivia. After an initial period of incessant warfare with the natives, the Spanish succeeded in subjugating the indigenous population.

Although Chile was unattractive to the Spanish because of its isolation from Peru to the north and its lack of precious metals (copper was discovered much later), the Spanish developed a pastoral society there based on large ranches and haciendas worked by indigenous people; the yields were shipped to Peru. During the long colonial era, the mestizos became a tenant farmer class, called inquilinos; although technically free, most were in practice bound to the soil.

During most of the colonial period Chile was a captaincy general dependent upon the viceroyalty of Peru, but in 1778 it became a separate division virtually independent of Peru. Territorial limits were ill-defined and were the cause, after independence, of long-drawn-out boundary disputes with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. The movement toward independence began in 1810 under the leadership of Juan Martínez de Rozas and Bernardo O'Higgins. The first phase (1810–14) ended in defeat at Rancagua, largely because of the rivalry of O'Higgins with José Miguel Carrera and his brothers. In 1817, José de San Martín, with incredible hardship, brought an army over the Andes from Argentina to Chile. The following year he won the decisive battle of Maipú over the Spaniards.

The New Nation

O'Higgins, who had been chosen supreme director, formally proclaimed Chile's independence Feb. 12, 1818, at Talca and established a military autocracy that characterized the republic's politics until 1833; O'Higgins ruled Chile from 1818 until 1823, when strong opposition to his policies forced him to resign. During this time the British expatriot Lord Cochrane, commanding the Chilean navy, cleared (1819–20) the coast of Spanish shipping, and in 1826 the remaining royalists were driven from Chiloé island, their last foothold on Chilean soil. The colonial aristocracy and the clergy had been discredited because of royalist leanings. The army, plus a few intellectuals, established a government devoid of democratic forms. Yet with the centralistic constitution of 1833, fashioned largely by Diego Portales on Chile's particular needs, a foundation was laid for the gradual emergence of parliamentary government and a long period of stability.

During the administrations of Manuel Bulnes (1841–51) and Manuel Montt (1851–61) the country experienced governmental reform and material progress. The war of 1866 between Peru and Spain involved Chile and led the republic to fortify its coast and build a navy. Chileans obtained the right to work the nitrate fields in the Atacama, which then belonged to Bolivia. Trouble over the concessions led in 1879 to open war (see Pacific, War of the). Chile was the victor and added valuable territories taken from Bolivia and Peru; a long-standing quarrel also ensued, the Tacna-Arica Controversy, which was finally settled in 1929. Chile also became involved in serious border troubles with Argentina; it was as a sign and symbol of the end of this trouble that the Christ of the Andes was dedicated in 1904. With the exploitation of nitrate and copper by foreign interests, chiefly the United States, prosperity continued.

The Transandine Railway was completed in 1910 (closed 1982), and many more railroads were built. Industrialization, which soon raised Chile to a leading position among South American nations, was begun. Meanwhile, internal struggles between the executive and legislative branches of the government intensified and resulted (1891) in the overthrow of José Balmaceda. A congressional dictatorship (with a figurehead president and cabinet ministers appointed by the congress) controlled the government until the constitution of 1925, which provided for a strong president. Former president Arturo Alessandri (who had instituted a program of labor reforms during his tenure from 1920 to 1924, and who commanded widespread popular support) was recalled (1925) as a caretaker until elections were held.

Radicals vs. Conservatives

Although Chile enjoyed economic prosperity between 1926 and 1931, it was very hard-hit by the world economic depression, largely because of its dependence on mineral exports and fluctuating world markets. Large-scale unemployment also had occurred after World War I when the nitrate market collapsed. The rise of the laboring classes was marked by unionization, and there were many Marxists who advocated complete social reform. The struggle between radicals and conservatives led to a series of social experiments and to counterattempts to suppress the radicals (especially the Communists) by force. During Arturo Alessandri's second term (1932–38) a measure of economic stability was restored; however, he turned to repressive measures and alienated the working classes.

A democratic-leftist coalition, the Popular Front, took power after the elections of 1938. Chile broke relations with the Axis (1943) and declared war on Japan in 1945. Economic stability, the improvement of labor conditions, and the control of Communists were the chief aims of the administration of Gabriel González Videla, who was elected president in 1946. He ruled with the support of the Communists until 1948, when he gained the support of the Liberal party and outlawed the Communists. His efforts, as well as those of his successors, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1952–58) and Jorge Alessandri (1958–64), were hampered by chronic inflation and repeated labor crises.

In the 1964 presidential election (in which Eduardo Frei Montalva was elected) and in the 1965 congressional elections, the Christian Democratic party won overwhelming victories over the Socialist-Communist coalition. Frei made advances in land reform, education, housing, and labor. Under his so-called Chileanization program, the government assumed a controlling interest in U.S.-owned copper mines while cooperating with U.S. companies in their management and development.

Allende, Pinochet, and the Restoration of Democracy

In 1970, Salvador Allende Gossens, head of the Popular Unity party, a coalition of leftist political parties, won a plurality of votes in the presidential election and became the first Marxist to be elected president by popular vote in Latin America. Allende, in an attempt to turn Chile into a socialist state, nationalized many private companies, instituted programs of land reform, and, in foreign affairs, sought closer ties with Communist countries.

Widespread domestic problems, including spiraling inflation, lack of food and consumer goods, stringent government controls, and opposition from some sectors to Allende's programs, led to a series of violent strikes and demonstrations. The problems were aggravated by efforts by the United States, which strongly opposed Allende, to undermine Chile's economy in an attempt to destabilize its politics. As the situation worsened, the traditionally neutral Chilean military began to pressure Allende; he yielded to some of their demands and appointed military men to several high cabinet positions.

In Sept., 1973, with covert American support, the armed forces staged a coup during which Allende died by his own hand; it also led to the execution, detention, or expulsion from Chile of thousands of people. Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte took control of the country. The economy continued to deteriorate, even though the government sought to return private enterprise to Chile by denationalizing many industries and by compensating businesses taken over by the Allende government. In 1974, Pinochet became the undisputed leader of Chile, assuming the position of head of state, and in 1977 he abolished all political parties and restricted human and civil rights. Unemployment and labor unrest grew, although the economy improved steadily between 1976 and 1981 with the help of foreign bank loans and an increase in world copper prices. In the early 1980s, the country was plagued by a recession and foreign debt grew significantly, but the economy leveled off late in the decade.

The 1981 constitution guaranteed elections in 1989, and in the 1980s political parties began to re-form despite Pinochet's opposition. In Oct., 1988, the electorate voted against the extension of Pinochet's term to 1997. In 1989, Patricio Aylwin Azócar, a member of the Christian Democratic party who headed a coalition of 17 center and left parties, was elected president by popular vote. However, under the military-drafted constitution, Pinochet remained head of the army. Under Aylwin, Chile again turned toward democracy; the country's economy strengthened, as its exports were increased and its debt lowered.

In 1994, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of Allende's predecessor, a Christian Democrat, and the leader of another center-left coalition, became president. Frei's free-market policies led to a massive flow of foreign investment. Pinochet stepped down as head of the army in 1998 and was made a senator for life. Later that year, during a visit to London, Pinochet was arrested and held for possible extradition to Spain, on charges stemming from his repressive regime; he was released for health reasons and returned to Chile in Mar., 2000. Falling copper prices, exacerbated by an Asian economic crisis, caused economic and social problems in 1998 and 1999.

Ricardo Lagos Escobar narrowly defeated Joaquín Lavín of the right-wing Alliance for Chile in a runoff election in Jan., 2000. Lagos, the candidate of the Christian Democratic–Socialist coalition, became Chile's first Socialist president since Allende. A moderate leftist, he appointed a cabinet consisting largely of nonideological technocrats.

The military violence of the Pinochet era remains an incompletely resolved issue in Chilean society. Under Lagos investigations into human rights cases proceeded to a greater extent than his two civilian predecessors, although not with the vigor demanded by some leftists and rights advocates. In 2000 prosecutors successfully brought human-rights-related charges against Pinochet, but they were dismissed because of health issues. A new criminal investigation began in 2004, and revelations of hidden offshore bank accounts led to tax evasion charges as well; this time the charges were not dismissed, but his death in 2006 ended all attempts to try him. A government report (2004) on the Pinochet regime denounced its widespread use of torture and illegal imprisonment and led the Chilean congress to enact a compensation program for the victims of military rule. In addition, the army accepted institutional responsibility for the human rights abuses that occurred under Pinochet. Since 2004 a number of former senior military officers in Pinochet's régime have been convicted of crimes relating to murders and other human rights offenses following the coup.

Contemporary Chile

In 2005, the constitution was amended to reduce the national influence of the military and reassert civilian control over it, eliminating some of the vestiges of Pinochet's dictatorship that had been preserved in the document, though the method of election to the Chilean Congress remained structured to guarantee significant minority, generally conservative, representation. Also in 2005, the border with Peru again became a source of international tension as Peru laid claim to offshore fishing waters that Chile controlled; a 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice awarded Peru a little more than half of the disputed waters. Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist and a defense minister under Lagos, was elected president in Jan., 2006, after a runoff; she was the first woman to be elected president of Chile. Bachelet, the center-left candidate, won more than 53% of the vote, defeating conservative business entrepreneur Sebastián Piñera. The center-left coalition also won majorities in both houses of the Chilean congress.

In June, 2006, Chile saw massive protests over secondary school funding, some of which resulted in clashes with the police, and in early 2007, there were significant protests in Santiago over the disruption caused by a new public transportation system. The nation weathered the 2008–9 global financial crisis and recession relatively well as the government used financial reserves from the 2003–8 copper boom for a stimulus program. Twenty years of center-left rule ended in 2010 when Piñera defeated Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the former president who was the center-left candidate, in a January runoff election. Piñera's coalition also won a plurality in the lower house of the congress, but lost the upper house.

In Feb., 2010, the country was struck by a devastating earthquake, and significant aftershocks occurred in subsequent weeks. The worst damage was in Concepción and surrounding areas, but significant damage also occurred in Santiago and Valparaiso. Areas along the central coast also suffered from tsunamis. Deaths from the temblor were in the hundreds, but damage was estimated to be $30 billion. Some 220,000 homes were destroyed, and the wine and fishing industries were particularly affected by the earthquake. By mid-2012, however, the Chilean government estimated that three fourths of the needed reconstruction had been completed.

In the 2013 presidential election, Bachelet ran for a second term and, after falling short of an outright victory in the first round, handily won the runoff, defeating conservative Evelyn Matthei Fornet. Bachelet's coalition also won majorities in both houses of the Chilean congress. Strong earthquakes centered off N Chile in Apr., 2014, and Sept., 2015, resulted in significant but relatively limited damage. In Jan.–Feb, 2017, Chile experienced its worst wildfire season ever; some 1,400 sq mi (3,600 sq km) burned in central and S Chile. The presidential election in 2017 resulted in a second term for Piñera, who easily defeated the center-left candidate Alejandro Guillier in the runoff. Chile Vamos, Piñera's conservative coalition, also won pluralities in both houses of the congress. In Oct., 2019, a rapid transit fare hike sparked weeks of protests in a number of cities against economic inequality that turned violent at times; the protests continued into early 2020. In response, Piñera re-formed his cabinet, and the government rescinded the increase, announced a package of social welfare and other reforms, and enacted legislation that called for a referendum on revising the Pinochet-era constitution. In October, referendum voters resoundingly called for a new constitution. In the December 2021 presidential elections, leftist candidate Gabriel Boric defeated his hard-right opponent, José Antonio Kast, promising to expand the country's social safety net and support a more liberal constitution.


See A. U. Hancock, A History of Chile (1893, repr. 1971); R. Debray, The Chilean Revolution: Conversations with Allende (tr. 1972); K. Medhurst, ed., Allende's Chile (1973); F. Maitland, Chile: Its Land and People (1980); M. Falcoff et al., Chile: Prospects for Democracy (1988); M. A. Garretón, The Chilean Political Process (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(República de Chile).

A state in the southwestern part of South America, Chile is bounded by Peru on the north, by Argentina and Bolivia on the east, and by the Pacific on the west. Its territory includes the coastal islands of the Chilean Archipelago (Chiloé, Wellington, Santa Inés), the western portion of the island of Tierra del Fuego, and the Pacific islands of San Ambrosio, San Félix, Juan Fernández, Sala-y-Gómez, and Easter Island. Area, 756,900 sq km (UN data). Population, 10.45 million (1976). The capital is Santiago. For administrative purposes, Chile is divided into 12 regions, which are subdivided into 40 provinces (see Table 1). Santiago and its suburbs constitute the 13th region.

Table 1. Administrative divisions of Chile (1977)
RegionsProvincesProvincial capitals
First ...............AricaArica
Second ...............TocopillaTocopilla
 El LoaCalama
Third ...............ChañaralChañaral
Fourth ...............ElquiLa Serena
Fifth ...............ValparaísoValparaíso
 San AntonioSan Antonio
 PetorcaLa Ligua
 San FelipeSan Felipe
 Los AndesLos Andes
 Isla de PascuaHanga Roa
Sixth ...............CachapoalRancagua
 ColchaguaSan Fernando
Seventh ...............CuricóCuricó
Eighth ...............ÑubleChillán
 Bío-BíoLos Angeles
Ninth ...............MallecoAngol
Tenth ...............ValdiviaValdivia
 LlanquihuePuerto Montt
Eleventh ...............AisénPuerto Aisén
 General CarreraChile Chico
 Capitán PratTortel
Twelfth ...............Ultima EsperanzaPuerto Natales
 MagallanesPunta Arenas
 Tierra de FuegoPorvenir
 Antárctica ChilenaPuerto Williams
Capital ...............SantiagoSantiago

After the military coup of Sept. 11, 1973, a military fascist regime was established in the country that upheld the openly terroristic dictatorship of the big Chilean capitalists and the foreign monopolies allied with them. All democratic practices and the country’s constitutional form of government were abolished. The state and the government are headed by a military junta composed of the commanders of the three branches of the armed forces and the carabineros (security forces). A decree issued on Dec. 17,1974, made the head of the junta, General A. Pinochet Ugarte, president of the republic. Pinochet wields executive power, and the junta as a whole exercises legislative authority. Established in July 1976 as the highest advisory body to the president, the Council of State prepares recommendations on the more important political and economic problems.

Chile stretches from north to south for a distance of 4,300 km, forming a narrow band 15 to 355 km wide between the Pacific coast and the high Andes Mountains.

Topography. There are three distinct north-south belts: the Principal Cordillera of the Andes in the east, the Coastal Cordillera in the west, and the intermontane depression known as the Longitudinal Valley. Over most of its length the Coastal Cordillera, with elevations of up to 3,200 m, drops sharply to a straight abrasion coast indented with bays. South of 41° 30’ S lat. the mountains form a transition to the island of Chiloé and other islands of southern Chile. Lying at an elevation of 1,200 m in the north, in the Pampa del Tamarugal and Atacama Desert, the Longitudinal Valley gradually descends to the Ancud Gulf and then dips beneath the ocean, forming a system of straits.

Inasmuch as the national boundary generally follows the watershed, it is primarily the western slopes of the Principal Cordillera of the Andes that face Chile, soaring to 6,880 m on Mount Ojos del Salado. In northeastern Chile is found the southwestern continuation of the Central Andes high plateaus, descending to 2,000–3,500 m in the Puna de Atacama and framed on the west by the Cordillera Domeyko. The southern and southeastern parts of Chile are occupied by the eastern slopes of the Andes and sections of the Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego plains near the Strait of Magellan.

As far as 35°S lat. the Andes peaks, frequently exceeding 6,000 m, are for the most part the cones of extinct or active volcanoes (Guallatiri, San Pedro, Tupungato, Maipo). Further south, the elevation of the Andes decreases (Mount San Valentin, 4,058 m); volcanoes arise along the foot of the western slopes (a large number of active ones are found between 37° and 43°S lat.); and there is more glaciation. Southern Chile has a typically fjord coast. The entire country is subject to frequent earthquakes.

Geological structure and mineral resources. Chile lies within the Andes (Cordillera) geosynclinal belt, which has a basement of weakly metamorphosed Paleozoic rocks in the east and possibly late Precambrian and Paleozoic metamorphic rocks in the west. These rocks are overlain by Jurassic-Cretaceous sedimentary strata in the east and by andesites in the west, as well as by Cretaceous-Paleogene vulcanites. Cretaceous-Paleogene granitoids are also widely found. Pliocene-Quaternary volcanoes crown the mountain ranges in the east. The Patagonian Andes, composed of Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous spilite-diabase and flysch strata and late Cretaceous-Paleogene molasse, differ from the Central Andes in their more complex structure, marked by folds thrust over the slightly deformed strata of the Magallanes Foredeep.

Chile is rich in many kinds of minerals. Its copper reserves, estimated at 94 million tons, and its saltpeter reserves are the largest in the capitalist world. Moreover, it ranks second in molybdenum reserves (2 million tons) and third in native sulfur reserves (100 million tons). The country has deposits of iron, manganese, lead, zinc, barite, and other ores, as well as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Among the ore deposits are the world’s largest porphyry copper deposits (Chuquicamata, El Salvador, and El Teniente), associated with a Cretaceous-Paleogene volcanic-plutonic complex. In processing the copper ores, significant quantities of molybdenum, silver, gold, and rare and trace elements are obtained. Deposits of saltpeter (chiefly sodium nitrate), salt, gypsum, and borates are found in the salt flats (salares) of the Longitudinal Valley. Sulfur deposits, volcanic in origin, are found at El Tacora, Concola, and other places along the Bolivian and Argentine border. Deposits of petroleum and natural gas are associated with the late Jurassic deposits of the Magallanes Foredeep (Tierra del Fuego).

Climate. North Chile, down to 28° S lat., has a tropical desert climate. The precipitation averages less than 50 mm of rain annually, and some places receive no rainfall for several consecutive years. Washed by the cold Peru Current, the northern coast is marked by considerable relative humidity, cloudiness in winter and spring, heavy fogs and mists (camanchaca and garúa), and average monthly temperatures ranging from 12°–16° to 18°–22°C. In the Atacama Desert the average monthly temperature varies from 11°–15° to 21°–23°C, and in the Puna de Atacama (at an elevation of 3,700 m) the temperature range is 2°–10°C; in both areas daily temperatures fluctuate by as much as 25°C, and the humidity falls to 30 percent.

In subtropical Central Chile (as far as 42° S lat.) the northern regions (to 32° S lat.) have a dry climate with an annual precipitation of 100–200 mm; the central parts (to 38° S lat.) have a Mediterranean climate with winter rains (351 mm annually in Santiago); and the southern regions have a humid subtropical climate with an annual precipitation of 2,000–2,500 mm. Correspondingly, the average monthly temperatures in the northern parts of Central Chile range from 12°–16°C in July to 18°–22°C in January; in the central regions they range seasonally, from 8° to 20°C in Santiago and from 11.4° to 17.8°C on the coast in Valparaiso; and in the southern areas they vary from 8° to 15°C.

South Chile has a temperate maritime climate with heavy rainfall. The western slopes of the Andes receive as much as 3,000–7,000 mm annually, brought by cyclones and westerly winds. Temperatures are relatively low and even, varying from 3°–5° to 8°–14°C. In the eastern plains the temperature ranges are somewhat greater, and the amount of precipitation decreases toward the Atlantic Ocean to a minimum of 250 mm a year.

Rivers and lakes. Almost all the country’s rivers are short and drain into the Pacific Ocean. Except for the Loa River, North Chile has no permanent streams or drainage into the ocean. In the depressions of the Puna de Atacama there are large salt flats (salares). Among the largest of Central Chile’s many rivers are the Huasco, Limarí, and Maule. Whereas the rivers in the northern part of Central Chile have winter high water, the rivers of the central regions have two high-water periods, one in winter (rains) and the other in summer (melting snow and ice). In the southern parts of Central Chile and in South Chile the rivers are high throughout the year; the largest rivers here are the Bio-Bio and the Baker. South of 39° S lat. there are many large, primarily terminal glacial lakes (Raneo, Llanquihue), including the western portions of several Patagonian lakes (Buenos Aires, San Martin). Only the lower reaches of the rivers in the southern part of Central Chile and the large lakes are navigable.

Largely owing to the increased precipitation as one moves southward, the snow line descends abruptly from 6,000 m to 500 m, and below 46° 30’ S lat. the glaciers reach sea level. Two ice fields covering 15,000 sq km lie between 46° 30’ and 51° 30’.

Soils and flora. In North Chile a soil and vegetative cover scarcely exists except along the coast, where a characteristic desert formation called lomas appears during periods of heavy fog. In Central Chile the northern regions are semideserts. The central regions support xerophytic scrub (matorrales, espinales), growing on gray and cinnamon-colored or cinnamon-colored soils; on the middle slopes of the Andes there are beech forests (Nothofagus oblequa), yielding at higher elevations to mountain steppes. In the Longitudinal Valley, with its pockets of vertisols (dark soils with faint horizonation), the natural vegetation has not survived. In the southern part of Central Chile dense rain forests (hemihylaea) grow on brown forest volcanic (andosols, trumao) and marshy soils; here the Andes are clothed with beech and coniferous forests and alpine meadows. South of 46° S lat. there are sub-Antarctic mixed forests. On the eastern plains are found steppes with chernozem-like chestnut soils, and the extreme south is covered with meadows and peat bogs.

Fauna. The deserts of North Chile are inhabited by aguarachay foxes, pumas, and reptiles. In South Chile there are pudu and guemal deer, skunks, otters, nutrias, and culpeo foxes, as well as many birds. Typical Patagonian species include guanacos, rodents, and ostriches.

Preserves. Wilflife and flora are protected in the Villarrica, Los Paraguas, Pérez Rosales, Puyehue, and Juan Fernández national parks and in the Nahuelbuta Preserve.

E. N. LUKASHOVA (physical geography) and V. D. CHEKHOVICH (geological structure and mineral resources)

More than 90 percent of Chile’s population is composed of Chileans, most of them mestizos of Spanish and Indian descent. The Indian population comprises Araucanians (Mapuche), inhabiting the central part of the country, small groups of Quechua and Aymara in the north, and Fuegians in the extreme south. Easter Island is settled by Polynesians (Rapanui). Spanish is the official language, and most of the population is Roman Catholic, although the Indians have to some extent preserved their languages and traditional beliefs. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1971 and 1976 the population grew at an average annual rate of 1.8 percent. In 1970 the country’s work force totaled 3.3 million persons, of whom 21 percent were engaged in agriculture, lumbering, fishing, and hunting (compared to 28 percent in 1960), 16 percent were employed in manufacturing (18 percent), 3 percent worked in the mining industry (4 percent), 6 percent were employed in transportation (5 percent), and 54 percent worked in the service sector (45 percent), including trade (12 percent, up from 10 percent in 1960). The average population density is approximately 14 persons per sq km (1976), but the overall distribution is extremely uneven. More than 50 percent of the population lives in the central provinces, where the density reaches 180 persons per sq km. The most sparsely settled are the southern provinces, with less than one person per sq km. The northern provinces average two to three persons per sq km. Urban dwellers account for 80.5 percent of the population (1975); 75 percent of them live in the central regions. The cities with populations of more than 100,000 (1976) are Santiago (3.4 million; the metropolitan area accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s population), Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Concepción, Talcahuano, Antofagasta, and Temuco.

Precolonial period (to the early 16th century). From remote times Chile was inhabited by Indian tribes, notably the Araucanians, Aymara, Chon, Chango, and Atacameño. The Chon and the Chango were essentially fishermen and hunters; the Atacameño herded llamas and alpacas, raised crops using irrigation, and worked gold, silver, and copper; and the Araucanians cultivated potatoes and corn and raised sheep. The tribes inhabiting northern Chile were subjugated by the Incas in the 15th century. By the beginning of the 16th century the indigenous peoples were organized into clans whose members owned land in common. Among the Araucanians, the most advanced and warlike of the Chilean tribes, a matriarchal clan system was giving way to a patriarchal one. The total Indian population numbered about 1 million.

Spanish colonial rule (16th to early 19th centuries). During the 1530’s Chile was invaded by Spanish conquistadors. Under the leadership of D. de Almagro and P. de Valdivia the conquerors dealt cruelly with the indigenous population. The Araucanians put up a stiff resistance, inflicting a resounding defeat on the colonialists in 1553. Subsequently, there were many Araucanian uprisings, the largest ones occurring in 1571, 1655, and 1723. In the mid-16th century Chile was included in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and in 1778 it was designated a separate captaincy general.

The Spanish colonialists introduced such forms of feudal exploitation as the encomienda and the repartimiento, distributing the land together with the Indians living on it and using Indian labor in farming and in mining gold, silver, and copper. In the mid-10th century the Spaniards founded several towns, among them Santiago (1541), Concepción (1550), and Valdivia (1552). Livestock raising developed, and artisan workshops and manufacturers (seeMANUFACTURE) were established. To prevent competition with the motherland, however, the Spanish authorities restrained the development of Chile’s economy. It was not until the end of the 18th century that Chile was permitted to trade with Spain and its colonies. The creóle bourgeoisie, demanding greater liberty, began to oppose colonial domination. The struggle for independence, which gathered momentum under the influence of the victory of the French Revolution, was led by J. A. Rojas, M. de Salas, and B. O’Higgins.

War of Independence (1810–18). The outbreak of a popular uprising against Spanish colonial oppression in Santiago in July 1810 was followed by the formation of a national governing junta on September 18, subsequently celebrated as National Independence Day. In 1811 a national congress was established, but inasmuch as it was dominated by pro-Spanish elements, J. M. Carrera, one of the leaders of the War of Independence, dissolved the congress and took control of the government, instituting measures to strengthen the country’s independence. Nevertheless, Carrera’s dictatorial regime provoked feuding that weakened the patriots’ camp. The liberation army was defeated by Spanish troops, and after the battle of Rancagua (October 1814) the patriots had to flee to Argentina. A new phase of the liberation struggle began in 1817. Led by O’Higgins, the commander in chief of the patriots, and supported by the army of the Argentine general J. San Martín, the Chileans defeated the Spaniards at the battle of Chacabuco (February 1817) and entered Santiago. O’Higgins became the supreme ruler of Chile. The country’s independence was proclaimed on Feb. 12, 1818, and achieved after the battle of Maipú (Apr. 5, 1818).

The development of an independent Chilean state (1818–1917). Under the constitution adopted in 1818, a republican form of government was established. The constitution guaranteed bourgeois liberties and placed all executive power in the hands of O’Higgins, the supreme ruler. Chile established diplomatic relations with other countries. In 1822, Great Britain granted Chile a loan of 5 million pesos, thereby inaugurating the flow of British capital into the Chilean economy and strengthening British influence on the country’s political life. O’Higgins’ struggle against the privileges of the landed oligarchy and the Catholic Church, along with his efforts to implement progressive reforms and restrict the church’s influence, provoked dissatisfaction among the feudal-clerical circles. The promulgation of a new constitution in October 1822, aimed at democratizing the political system and limiting the privileges of the aristocracy, exacerbated the tense situation. Under pressure from the reactionary forces, O’Higgins resigned and emigrated.

General R. Freire, who became president in 1823, sought to continue O’Higgins’ policies. The ensuing struggle for power among the various factions culminated in 1830 in the victory of the Conservatives, who represented the interests of the landowning oligarchy and the church and who relied on the support of foreign capitalists. The Constitution of 1833 strengthened the Conservatives, who remained in power until 1875. During the 1830’s and 1840’s many new domestic and foreign enterprises were founded. With the expansion of crafts and industry, chiefly mining, the number of workers increased. The second half of the 19th century saw an awakening of class consciousness among the workers, who began to resort to organized struggle. Marxism attracted a large following, and the first workers’ newspaper, El proletario, began publication in 1875.

In 1879, Great Britain incited Chile to declare war on Peru and Bolivia in order to appropriate the large deposits of saltpeter on their territory. As a result of the War of the Pacific (1879–83), the Peruvian province of Tarapacá and the Bolivian province of Antofagasta were ceded to Chile. The seizure of the saltpeter deposits gave impetus to the development of capitalism in Chile and accelerated the inflow of British capital. The accession to power in 1886 of the Liberal J. M. Balmaceda—an advocate of independent economic and political development—was unpalatable to the oligarchy, which was supported by the foreign monopolies, the church, and the upper ranks of the military. After losing the civil war unleashed by his opponents, Balmaceda resigned as president in 1891. Power passed to the financial and landowning elite, which facilitated the country’s subjugation to British capital and, from the early 20th century, to US capital.

The miserable living conditions of the workers gave rise to a strike movement that reached its peak between 1905 and 1907 in the towns of Iquique, Antofagasta, and Concepción. The working class became more organized: the Chilean Workers’ Federation was founded in 1909 and the Socialist Workers’ Party in 1912. During World War I, in which Chile remained neutral, US monopolies increased their investments in Chile’s industry, particularly its copper industry, thereby strengthening their economic and political influence in the country.

Since 1918. After the war, a decline in saltpeter mining and the deterioration of the country’s economy gave fresh impetus to the struggle of the toiling masses, who were certainly influenced by the October Socialist Revolution in Russia. In 1922 the Socialist Workers’ Party was transformed into the Communist Party of Chile. The mid-1920’s were marked by political instability. In September 1924 the government of A. Alessandri Palma was overthrown by a military junta, and in January 1925 military men led by C. Ibáñez del Campo staged another coup. The constitution that was adopted in September 1925 reflected a political alliance between the big bourgeoisie and the landed oligarchy against the working class and the toiling masses. In 1927, Ibáñez, now the defense minister, ousted the president and established a dictatorship. The Communist Party, the Workers’ Federation, and the country’s anarchosyndicalist organizations were outlawed.

In the early 1930’s there were demonstrations protesting against the dictatorship. A mutiny in the navy in 1931 was followed in June 1932 by a military coup led by Colonel M. Grove Vallejo, who proclaimed Chile a “socialist republic.” Councils of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies were formed in a number of cities. Yet another military putsch soon toppled the republic. In October 1932, Alessandri returned to power and pursued a policy of strengthening the position of foreign capital.

In March 1936 a Popular Front was created by the Communist, Radical, and Socialist parties. The 1938 presidential election was won by the Popular Front candidate, the radical P. Aguirre Cerda, whose government promulgated some progressive measures, notably a labor law and a law providing bank credit for peasants, but under pressure from the reactionaries it backed away from agrarian reform. The treachery of right-wing socialists caused the Popular Front to collapse in 1941. On the initiative of the Communist Party, the Democratic Alliance, a coalition of the Communist, Radical, and Democratic parties, was formed in 1942. Chile did not take part in World War II, although it declared war on Germany in February 1945 and on Japan two months later.

In 1946 the presidency was won by the Radical G. González Videla, the candidate of the Democratic Alliance, who included Communists in his government. However, with the onset of the cold war, unleashed by US reactionary circles, González Videla in 1947 expelled the Communists from his government and broke off diplomatic relations with the USSR, established in 1944. In 1948 the national Congress adopted a “law for the defense of democracy,” banning the Communist Party, progressive trade unions, and other democratic organizations. US monopolies came to dominate the Chilean economy.

On the Communists’ initiative the People’s Front was founded in 1951, the Single Center of Chilean Workers in 1953, and the Popular Action Front (FRAP) in 1956. The FRAP coalition included not only Communists and Socialists but members of other parties as well. The strike movement that developed in 1954–55 encompassed more than 1 million persons. Under pressure from the growing FRAP movement, the law for the defense of democracy was repealed in 1958, and the Communist Party was legalized. In the 1958 presidential elections the FRAP candidate, the Socialist S. Allende Gossens, received only 30,000 votes less than the candidate of the right-wing forces and the puppet of big capital, J. Alessandri. The Alessandri government (1958–64) pursued a policy of involving the country in the plots of foreign capitalists and suppressing the labor movement.

On coming to power in 1964, E. Frei Montalva, the leader of the right wing of the Christian Democratic Party, resumed diplomatic relations with the USSR (1964) and announced a national reformist program of “revolution in liberty,” providing for a number of bourgeois democratic reforms. However, the government’s “Chileanization” of copper through the gradual buying up of the stock owned by American monopolies did not limit the profits of the US companies. The agrarian reform announced in 1967 was carried out extremely slowly. All this provoked discontent among the masses and strengthened the influence of the Communist Party and the FRAP.

In December 1969 the Communist, Socialist, Social Democratic, and Radical parties, the Movement for United Popular Action (MAPU), and the Independent Popular Action formed the coalition known as Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), which on the eve of the 1970 presidential elections put forward a program of radical social and economic change. The victory of the Unidad Popular candidate, S. Allende, led to the creation in November 1970 of a popular government that included representatives of all the coalition parties. The Allende government introduced far-reaching anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic reforms; copper mines belonging to US monopolies were nationalized, restrictions were placed on the activity of the Chilean industrial, landowning, and financial oligarchy, and an agrarian reform was carried out that effectively abolished the latifundia system. Measures were adopted to raise the living conditions of workers and office employees, to improve the pension system, and to stimulate housing construction.

The Allende government strongly advocated peace and international security, supported peaceful coexistence and the cooperation of states with different social systems, and opposed colonialism and neo-colonialism. Chile’s ties with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries changed materially. The government revived diplomatic relations with Cuba and established diplomatic relations with other socialist countries. The revolutionary process encountered fierce opposition from domestic reactionaries, supported by foreign imperialism: the government’s efforts were deliberately undermined, economic difficulties were artificially created, and acts of terrorism and sabotage were carried out.

In September 1973 the popular government was overthrown by a military revolt planned by domestic and foreign reactionaries. President Allende was killed during an attack on the presidential palace. A military-fascist junta headed by the army commander General A. Pinochet Ugarte came to power. The junta suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Congress, and banned all political parties and mass organizations. In the subsequent reign of terror unleashed by the junta some 30,000 Chilean patriots perished in the junta’s torture chambers, and another 2,500 persons “disappeared.” The junta nullified the economic gains of the people, returning the land to the latifundistas and enterprises to their former owners and paying compensation to foreign monopolies. Diplomatic relations with the USSR and other socialist countries were broken off. In December 1974, A. Pinochet was proclaimed president of Chile.

The junta’s antinational and antipopular policies caused an abrupt deterioration of the situation in the country, the impoverishment of the working people, and a considerable rise in the cost of living. By 1976 about 20 percent of the work force was unemployed. In order to prop up the military fascist regime, the USA (and the international economic organizations associated with it) granted Chile loans and credits amounting to some $2.5 billion. Despite this assistance, Chile’s financial situation has remained precarious. The junta is militarizing the economy and strengthening the country’s ties with the imperialist states. In foreign policy the military fascist government is guided by the USA. In 1979 a number of trade union federations resumed their activities under government control. In 1980, the constitution, approved by referendum, confirmed Pinochet’s presidency to the end of the 20th century.

Chilean patriots continue to resist the reactionary regime. The Communist Party has appealed to all the country’s democratic, antifascist forces to unite firmly and broaden the struggle to overthrow the Pinochet dictatorship. The junta’s domestic isolation has been reinforced by international isolation.


Programmnye dokumenty kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii stran Ameriki. Moscow, 1962.
Corvelán, L. Put’ pobedy. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Spanish.)
Allende, S. Istoriia prinadlezhit nam: Rechi i stat’i, 1970–1973. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ocherki istorii Chili. Moscow, 1967.
Chili: Polilika, Ekonomika, Kul’tura. Moscow, 1965.
Nikitin, M. S. Chili. Moscow, 1965.
Ramírez Necochea, H. Istoriia rabochego dvizheniia v Chile: Pervye shagi, XIX v. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ramírez Necochea, H. Istoriia imperializma v Chili. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Spanish.)
Kudachkin, M. F. Chili: Bor’ba za edinstvo i pobedu levykh sil. [Moscow] 1973.
Castillo, R. Uroki i perspektivy revoliutsii v Chili. Prague, 1974.
Korolev, Iu. N. Chili: Revoliutsiia i kontrrevoliutsiia. Moscow, 1976.
Kudachkin, M. F., A. V. Borisov, and V. G. Tkachenko. Chiliiskaia revoliutsiia: Opyt i znachenie. Moscow, 1977.
Uroki Chili. Moscow, 1977.
Medina, J. T. Collección de documentos inéditos para la historia de Chile, vols. 1–6. Santiago, 1956–63.
Encina Francisco, A. Historia de Chile desde la prehistoria hasta 1891, vols. 1–20. Santiago, 1948–56.
Encina Francisco, A. Resumen de la historia de Chile, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Santiago, 1956.
Ramirez Necochea, H. Antecedentes económicos de la independencia de Chile, 2nd ed. Santiago, 1967.


All the parties that belonged to the Unidad Popular coalition prior to the 1973 coup have been outlawed, notably the Radical Party of Chile (Partido Radical de Chile), formed at the end of the 1850’s and officially founded in 1883; the Socialist Party of Chile (Partido Socialista de Chile), established in 1933; the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Comunista de Chile), founded in 1922; and the Movement for United Popular Action (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitaria), organized in 1969. All these parties now operate under illegal conditions. The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano), a bourgeois-reformist party founded in 1957, has been indefinitely suspended by the junta. Since January 1977 limited activity has been permitted to the National Party (Partido Nacional), which was created in 1966 through a merger of the Conservative and Liberal parties and which drew its support from the landowning and financial-industrial oligarchy.

The Single Center of Chilean Workers (Central Unica de Trabajandores de Chile), founded in 1953, has been banned but continues to operate illegally.

General characteristics. Economically, Chile is one of the relatively well-developed countries of Latin America. A large role in the economy is played by foreign, chiefly US, capital, the investment of which has been especially encouraged since the military junta seized power in 1973. The leading branch of the economy is industry, whose most highly developed sectors are mining and nonferrous metallurgy, both export oriented. In 1976, Chile ranked first in the capitalist world in the mining and export of saltpeter, second (after the USA) in the production and export of copper, and third (after the USA and Canada) in the output and export of molybdenum. In 1975 the per capita gross national product amounted to $691 (in current prices), putting Chile in tenth place among the Latin American countries. In 1974 agriculture, lumbering, fishing, and hunting accounted for 6.9 percent of the GNP, the mining industry for 13.5 percent, manufacturing for 29.2 percent, and construction for 3.9 percent.

During the years when the Unidad Popular government was in power the state sector in industry was strengthened, a radical agrarian reform was promulgated, and cooperation with the socialist countries was expanded. By September 1973 more than 500 state-owned or state-controlled enterprises were providing about 50 percent of the total industrial output. Moreover, the state owned 85 percent of the rail network, as well as most of the air and maritime transport facilities. Some 3,500 large estates, totaling 5.4 million hectares (ha), were expropriated and distributed among the landless and land-poor peasants. About 70 percent of foreign trade operations were under state control.

Since the military junta has taken power there has been a sharp decline in industrial production, chiefly in consumer goods. The slowdown has affected small-scale and artisan industries, as well as large enterprises. In 1977 only 23 industrial enterprises remained under state management. Approximately 3 million ha of land have been returned to the large landowners, for the most part in provinces with fertile soils. A law enacted in 1974 gave foreign monopolies the right to import capital and transfer profits abroad without any restrictions. At the end of 1973 foreign private capital investments amounted to $1.2 billion. The workers’ share in the national income fell from 65 percent in 1972 to 35 percent in 1974. In 1975 the country was struck by a severe economic crisis. The workers’ standard of living declined, the GNP was reduced by 13 percent, and the output of consumer goods and food crops fell sharply.

Industry. An important branch of industry, mining is dominated by foreign companies, who own almost all the mining enterprises. Although the copper mines are still owned by the state, they are worked and managed by US monopolies. The state oil company ENAP is responsible for the exploration, extraction, and refining of petroleum. The export-oriented copper industry accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s metallic mineral output. Iron ore mining ranks second in both production and export. The largest copper-molybdenum mines are Chuquicamata in El Loa Province, El Salvador in Chañaral Province, and El Teniente in Cachapoal Province; together with the Rio Blanco and Exótica mines in Santiago Province, these three deposits yield 85 percent of Chile’s copper output. The largest iron mines are El Romeral in Elqui Province and Algarrobo and Boquerón Chañar in Huasco Province.

Chile’s saltpeter deposits, the world’s largest, are located in the north, in the western part of the Atacama Desert. The largest output comes from the María Elena and Pedro de Valdivia mines in Tocopilla Province. In the early 20th century Chile’s saltpeter mines supplied almost three-fourths of the world demand for nitrogen fertilizers. Owing to the increased production of cheap artificial nitrogen fertilizers, by the early 1960’s saltpeter production had fallen to almost one-fourth of the 1929 output.

Petroleum and gas exploitation is carried out by ENAP in the southern part of the country—on Tierra del Fuego and along the northern coast of the Magellan Strait. Most of the coal mines are found around Lota and Coronel in Concepción Province. In 1975, the country’s electric power plants had an installed capacity of 2.6 gigawatts, with hydroelectric power plants accounting for 1.5 gigawatts. Hydroelectric power plants supplied 70 percent of the electricity generated in 1975. The largest hydroelectric power plant (capacity, 350 megawatts) is located at Rapel, and the largest thermoelectric power plant (170 megawatts) operates at Tocopilla.

Chile’s manufacturing industry, ranking fifth in Latin America in production volume, is dominated by branches producing consumer goods. The food-processing, textile, and leather-footwear branches account for two-thirds of the employees and three-fifths of the output, by value, of the manufacturing industry. Small enterprises, most of them artisan workshops, employ 50 percent of the manufacturing work force and contribute about 30 percent of the output by value. Large factories and plants, constituting 3 percent of the total number of enterprises, provide 59 percent of the value of the industrial output and employ 44 percent of the workers in manufacturing. After World War II manufacturing expanded rapidly, notably ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, chemicals, metalworking, and the paper and pulp industry.

Nonferrous metallurgy works are found in Chuquicamata, Paipote, Potrerillos, Las Ventanas, Chagres, and Coletones, and there are machine-building and metalworking enterprises in Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, Arica, and Talcahuano. Most of the output of the copper-ore and copper-smelting industry is exported; in 1974 such exports totaled 702,000 tons of blister and refined copper and 156,000 tons of copper concentrates. A ferrous metallurgy works has been built at Huachipato in Concepción Province. Petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants are located for the most part in Concepción, Concón, and Manantiales, and the chemical industry is largely confined to Valparaiso, Santiago, and Antofagasta. Textiles are manufactured in Valparaiso, Santiago, and Concepción and leather footwear in Valparaiso and Santiago. Food-processing enterprises, found in almost all cities, are especially numerous in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Valdivia. About 80 percent of the country’s industrial output comes from enterprises in the provinces of Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepción; more than 50 percent of these enterprises are in the city of Santiago. See Table 2 for the output of the major industrial products.

Table 2. Output of leading industrial products (thousand tons)
1Metal content
Copper ore1 ...............3635321,005
Refined copper ...............156147571
Iron ore ...............2,9536,04110,380
Molybdenum ore1 ...............1.89.82
Saltpeter ...............1,6079307262
Iodine ...............0.51.822
Petroleum ...............829431,092
Hard coal ...............1,9931,2971,199
Electric power (million kW-hrs) ...............2,9434,5929,432
Steel ...............85450508
Cast iron and ferroalloys ...............110266400
Cement ...............513835963
Paper ...............4192243
White sugar ...............5373210
Table 3. Sown area and yield of chief crops
 Area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1 Annual average
Wheat ...............753,000740,000698,0001,082,0001,307,000850,000
Corn ...............86,00074,000107,000204,000239,000273,000
Oats ...............77,00073,00065,00089,000111,00077,000
Barley ...............41,00047,00056,00074,00097,00078,000
Rice ...............31,00025,00023,000285,00076,00076,0002
Sugar beets ...............15,00042,00042,0002543,0001,655,0001,617,0002
Rape ...............42,00054,00060,00048,00070,00064,000
Potatoes ...............90,00072,00095,000793,000684,000725,000

Agriculture. Of Chile’s 17.3 million hectares (ha) of agricultural land, 5.7 million ha are arable land and 11.6 million ha are meadows and pastures (1974). Some 1.2 million ha are irrigated. Crop farming contributes about 60 percent of the value of agricultural output, and livestock raising, about 40 percent. The principal crop-growing areas are the slopes of the Coastal Cordillera and the Longitudinal Valley in Central Chile. The chief crops are wheat, corn, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, rice, and rape. Rye, beans, sunflowers, and flax are also cultivated. (See Table 3 for the sown area and yield of the principal crops.) Orchards (apples, citrus fruits, peaches) and vineyards are also found, primarily in Central Chile, from Santiago Province to Linares Province.

Livestock raising, extensive rather than intensive, is carried on throughout the country. In 1975 the livestock numbered 3.6 million head of cattle, 5.9 million sheep, 800,000 goats, and 900,000 pigs. Cattle are raised primarily in Central Chile and sheep in the south. Dairy farming is thriving around the major cities. In 1976 raw wool production amounted to 19,200 tons.

Chile’s timber reserves are estimated at 1.2 billion cu m. Some 8.2 million cu m of round timber, chiefly coniferous, were produced in 1975.

The country’s fish catch of 1.1 million tons in 1975 was exceeded only by that of Peru in Latin America. Crabs, lobsters, and shellfish are also caught.

Transportation. Motor vehicles are the chief means of transport within the country. Of the roughly 92,000 km of roads, 11,000 km are paved and 25,400 km have a gravel surface (1974). The railroad network totals 9,800 km. The main railroad, running from Pisagua in the north to Puerto Montt in the south, has branch lines to seaports and mineral deposits. At the end of 1975 the country had 393,000 motor vehicles, including 236,800 passenger cars. Some 90 percent of all foreign trade cargo is handled by maritime shipping. The merchant marine, ships exceeding 100 gross registered tons, totaled 459,000 gross registered tons in 1975. The 1972 cargo turnover of the largest ports (in million tons) was as follows: Huasco (4.2), Valparaiso (4), Caldera (1.4), Coquimbo (1.3), and Tocopilla (1). Other major ports are Talcahuano and Chañaral. Air transport is well developed.

Foreign trade. In 1974, Chile’s exports totaled $2.481 billion and its imports, $1.910 billion. Copper accounted for 71.7 percent of the total value of 1974 exports, iron ore for 5.3 percent, saltpeter and iodine for 2.2 percent, pulp and paper for 4.4 percent, and agricultural and fishery products for 4.2 percent. The leading imports in 1974 were foodstuffs (33.1 percent of the total value of imports), machinery and transport equipment (23 percent), fuel (14.3 percent), and chemical products (11.8 percent). Chile’s principal trading partners are Japan (accounting for 11.2 percent of its exports and 3.7 percent of its imports), the Federal Republic of Germany (14.4 percent and 7.1 percent), the USA (8.8 percent and 29.2 percent), Great Britain (8.2 percent and 2.8 percent), Argentina (6.8 percent and 17 percent, in 1974), Brazil (5.8 percent and 4.3 percent), Italy (6.5 percent of exports), and Ecuador (4 percent of imports). The monetary unit is the peso, whose value has been falling; the exchange rate was US $1 – 6.4 pesos on Sept. 30, 1975, and US $1 = 19.82 pesos on May 31, 1977.

Economic regions. The Northern Economic Region, encompassing the First through Fourth regions, is a mining region producing copper, iron ore, and saltpeter. Agriculture is confined to the oases. Most of the agricultural output is provided by the region’s southern provinces, where wheat, corn, vegetables, grapes, hemp, and tobacco are grown. Most of the country’s llamas and alpacas are raised in the provinces of Arica and Iquique.

The Central Economic Region, comprising the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh regions and Nũble and Concepción provinces in the Eighth Region, is the most highly developed economic region and the principal manufacturing and agricultural region. The leading branches of industry—food processing, textiles, clothing and footwear, and chemicals—are concentrated in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepción provinces. Farming is oriented toward grain growing and beef and dairy cattle raising. A substantial area is planted to orchards (plums, cherries, peaches, citrus fruits) and vineyards. Dry farming is done on the slopes of the Coastal Cordillera, and irrigation is used in the Longitudinal Valley and the river basins. The economic region produces all of the country’s rice, 85 percent of its corn, 75 percent of its barley, 50 percent of its wheat, and 40 percent of its potatoes.

The agricultural South-Central Economic Region includes Arauco and Bío-Bío provinces of the Eighth Region and the Ninth and Tenth regions, excluding Chiloé Province. The main economic activities are livestock raising for meat and milk and the cultivation of grain crops. The region accounts for 60 percent of the country’s cattle, 55 percent of the pigs, 30 percent of the goats, 45 percent of the wheat harvest, 85 percent of the rye, and more than 90 percent of the rape. The principal branches of industry are food processing, paper and pulp production, and coal mining.

The Southern Economic Region, consisting of the Eleventh and Twelfth regions and Chiloé Province, is an underdeveloped agricultural region. Sheep raising, the main branch of agriculture, accounts for about 70 percent of the total head of sheep in the country. The major industries are petroleum and natural gas extraction, food processing (chiefly fish), and woodworking.

Table 4. Basic indexes of economic regions (1970) (percent)
Area ...............40141333
Population ...............1070173
Value of GNP ...............1770103
Value of mining output ...............682516
Value of manufacturing output ...............68581
Value of agricultural output ...............5553010

(See Table 4 for the basic indexes of these regions.)


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La economica chilena en 1972. Santiago, 1973.


Chile’s armed forces consist of an army, an air force, and a navy, totaling more than 85,000 men in 1978. The supreme commander in chief is the president, and the military junta exercises direct leadership. There are also internal security forces, the Carabineros, numbering 30,000 men. The armed forces are recruited by conscription, and the term of active military service is 12 months. Officers are trained at various military schools, in three academies (one for each branch of the armed forces), and at a military polytechnical academy. The army of about 50,000 men is organized into five infantry divisions, two tank regiments, three cavalry regiments, one airborne regiment, and several antiaircraft and service units. The air force of 11,000 men is equipped with 50 combat, 60 transport, and about 75 training aircraft, as well as 30 helicopters. The navy of about 24,000 men (3,800 marines) has three cruisers, 12 destroyers, six submarines, two frigates, four torpedo boats, six patrol boats, and six landing craft. Naval subdivisions include an air force of about 20 airplanes and ten helicopters, a marine brigade, and a coastal artillery. The armaments are mainly of US manufacture.

In 1974 the country had a birth rate of 25.4 and a mortality rate of 7.4 per 1,000 inhabitants. Infant mortality was 63.3 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy was 62.6 years.

There is a high incidence of infectious and cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumors. Among the more common infectious or parasitic diseases are children’s infections, syphilis, gastrointestinal infectious diseases, infectious hepatitis, and helminthiases.

The central public health agency is the Ministry of Health. The new National Health Service, introduced in 1975, has reduced the number of people eligible to receive state medical care. About 70 percent of the population is not covered, including industrial workers, peasants, members of their families, and children under 15 years of age. Private practice is on the rise.

In 1974 there were 295 hospitals with 37,200 beds (3.6 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), of which 256 were state hospitals with 35,400 beds. That year the country had 4,300 practicing physicians (one for every 2,400 inhabitants), as well as 1,400 dentists and more than 22,000 secondary medical personnel. Approximately 60 percent of the physicians are located in the central province of Santiago. Physicians are trained at six university medical faculties.


Veterinary services. Among the more common diseases that afflict domestic animals are tuberculosis, brucellosis, malignant anthrax, blackleg, salmonellosis, leptospirosis, foot-and-mouth disease, fascioliasis, echinococcosis, and trichinosis. Among swine, erysipelas, hog cholera and infectious atrophic rhinitis have been recorded; among poultry, Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis, infectious laryngotracheitis, mycoplasmosis, Marek’s disease, pullorosis, leukosis, and fowl cholera and pox; among sheep, infectious enterotoxemia, ecthyma contagiosum, and mange; among rabbits, myxomatosis and coccidiosis; and among horses, strangles, horse influenza, and lymphagitis ulce rosa pseudofarcinosa. These diseases are less frequently encountered in the south; since 1973 no cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in Magallanes, Aisén, and Chiloé provinces. Veterinary specialists are trained at the veterinary faculty of the University of Chile and at the veterinary school of the private Southern University of Chile. In 1976 the country had 1,157 veterinarians; this figure includes only veterinarians working for the Ministry of Agriculture.


Under the Unidad Popular government the education system was democratized. The period of compulsory education was extended from six to eight years, and the number of pupils attending all schools increased sharply. Compared to 1970 figures, the enrollment in primary schools rose by 13.5 percent, in general-education secondary schools by 33.7 percent, in vocational-technical schools by 51.9 percent, in higher educational institutions by 82.4 percent, and in the adult education system by 96.8 percent. Moreover, three times as many schools were built in 1972 as in 1970. After the 1973 military coup the number of students and teachers dropped sharply, and all schools were militarized.

According to 1975 data, 5 percent of the urban population and 10 percent of the rural population are illiterate. Children are required by law to attend school between the ages of six and 15. Upon completing the compulsory eight-year primary school, students may enroll in a four-year general-education secondary school, a four-year vocational-technical school, or a four-year teacher-training school. In the 1977–78 school year the primary schools had an enrollment of 2.2 million pupils, and in the 1977–78 school year the various secondary schools were attended by more than 487,200 students.

The country’s eight universities, six of them private, had a total enrollment of more than 132,000 students in the 1977–78 academic year. The largest universities are the University of Chile, the State Technical University in Santiago (founded 1947), and the Catholic University of Chile (1888). In addition, there are three colleges, a conservatory, and the School of Applied Arts. The largest of the country’s 18 major libraries is the National Library, founded in 1813 and containing 1.2 million volumes in 1977. The most important museums, all located in the capital, are the National Historical Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Natural History, and museums of education, contemporary art, and folk art of the American peoples.


Most of the country’s research institutions are located in Santiago. The National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, a state agency founded in 1966 and reorganized in 1969, is responsible for planning scientific and technical policy. The leading state-financed research institutions are the Meteorological Bureau (1884) with its network of observatories and scientific stations, the Chilean Bacteriological Institute (1929), the Military Geographical Institute (1922, the country’s official cartographic institution), the National Geographical, Geodetic, and Geophysical Committee (1955), the Hydrographic Institute of the Navy (1874, Valparaiso), the Geological Institute (1957), the Chilean Antarctic Institute (1963, with scientific stations in Antarctica), and the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission.

Among the many private research institutes and learned societies are the Valparaiso Oceanographic Institute (1945), the Lebu Scientific Institute (1945), which studies the history of the Araucanians, the Chilean Academy (1885, philological studies), the Chilean Academy of Natural Sciences (1926), the Chilean Academy of History (1940), and the Chilean Academy of Sciences (1964). Several industrial firms have their own research departments. A considerable amount of scientific work is also done by the universities, notably the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile. The establishment of the military fascist dictatorship in 1973, followed by mass repressions, the emigration of hundreds of scientific workers, and reduced allocations for scientific research, greatly weakened Chile’s scientific potential.

In 1980, Chile had about 100 daily newspapers. After the military fascist junta came to power in September 1973, all progressive newspapers and magazines were banned. A law enacted in December 1975 permitted the government to shut down newspapers and radio stations whose news was deemed antipatriotic.

One of the most influential Santiago dailies is El Mercurio, founded in 1900 and having a circulation of 300,000. The proprietors of El Mercurio publish newspapers of the same name in Valparaiso (since 1827), Antofagasta (since 1906), and other cities, as well as the Santiago tabloid Las Ultimas Noticias (since 1902, circulation 85,000). The daily La Tercera de la Hora, an air force organ issued in Santiago since 1950, has a circulation of 450,000. The daily La Nación (since 1917), banned since 1973, began appearing as the official organ of the military junta on June 2, 1980. The most popular illustrated weekly magazines are Vea (since 1939, circulation 180,000) and Ercilla (since 1934, circulation 300,000). Other major periodicals are the Catholic weekly Que Pasa and the monthly Mensaje (since 1944, circulation 20,000–30,000). Illegal publications include the newspaper El Siglo, the organ of the Communist Party of Chile, and the journal Los Principios, the party’s theoretical organ.

The Orbe News Agency, a private agency founded in 1953, supplies news to the capital’s newspapers and radio and television stations. Radio broadcasting was begun in the 1920’s. In 1980 there were 134 radio stations. The government-controlled Radio Nacional de Chile broadcasts in Spanish and five other languages. Television broadcasting was initiated in 1959, and by 1978 there were 22 stations and the government-controlled company Television Nacional de Chile.


A Spanish-language literature has been developing in Chile since the beginning of colonial rule in the 16th century, when the Spaniard A. de Ercilla y Zúñiga (1553–94) wrote the famous epic La Araucana (parts 1–3, 1569–89), describing the Araucanians’ heroic resistance to the colonialists. Transplanted to the colonies, Spanish folk poetry was transformed into a distinctive Creole folklore. During the War of Independence of the Spanish-American Colonies (1810–26), when publicistic writing became the leading genre, the journalist C. Henriquez (1769–1825) founded the first Chilean newspaper, Aurora de Chile. The first national plays were written in the 1820’s by M. Magallanes (1812–73). After independence (1818), the relative stability of Chile’s political life made it a haven for literary men from other Latin American countries. One such emigré was the Venezuelan poet and scholar A. Bello (1781–1865), who played an important cultural role in Chile.

Addressing the first gathering of the Literary Society of Chile in 1842, the public figure, scholar, and prose writer J. V. Lastarria (1817–88) defined the task of creating a national literature. The poetry of S. Sanfuentes (1817–60) and E. Lillo (1826–1910) and the plays of C. Bello developed within the mainstream of romanticism. In prose there was a predilection for costumbrismo, colorful description of daily life. The style was initiated by J. Vallejo (1811–58), whose short stories give a satirical picture of Chilean society. Costumbrismo also influenced the autobiographical and memoir literature of the period.

The social and historical development of Chile, which embarked on capitalism earlier than the other Latin American countries, stimulated the appearance of critical realism in the mid-19th century. The leading exponent of critical realism, A. Blest Gana (1830–1920), won renown for his cycle of novels entitled Human Comedy of Chile, portraying Chilean society at mid-century. The central theme of his works, including the novel Martin Rivas (1862), is the moral conflict engendered by the power of money. Social conditions were also depicted critically by D. Barros Grez (1834–1904) and L. Orrego Luco (1886–1948), whose novel The Big House (1908) showed the degeneration of the landowning aristocracy.

At the turn of the century, under the influence of the Nicaraguan R. Darío, a number of poets experimented with new verse forms and imagery, among them Jorge González Bastias (1863–1905) and M. Jara (born 1886). The country’s natural beauty was celebrated in the collections From the Sea to the Mountains (1903) by D. Dublé Urrutia (born 1878) and The Chilean Soul (published in 1912) by C. Pezoa Veliz (1879–1908), whose poems are imbued with a folk spirit and social protest.

The prose of the early 20th century mirrored Chile’s severe social problems. Underground (1904; Russian title Post No. 12, 1962), a collection of short stories by B. Lillo (1867–1923), mercilessly exposed the exploitation of miners by foreign companies. The “urban novel” criticized bourgeois society from a social and moral perspective. Its leading exponents—A. d’Halmar (1882–1950), best known for his novel Juana Lucero (1902), and J. Edwards Bello (1877?–1968)—were attracted to the aesthetics of naturalism. The writers known as Creolists drew their inspiration from nature and rural life. The theoretical principles of Creolism were followed most consistently by M. Latorre (1886–1955), the movement’s leader, who believed that national character was shaped by the natural environment. Other major Creolists were F. Gana (1867–1926), R. Maluenda (born 1885), F. Santiván (born 1886), and L. Durand (1895–1954).

From the 1920’s poetry emerged as the leading genre. The mature, highly lyrical verse of Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) presented a sharp contrast to the overly refined style of the epigones of modernism. The collections Desolation (1922), Tala (1938), and Winepress (1954), while recording the poet’s individual feelings, also reflect the collective consciousness of the Latin American peoples. International avant-garde trends influenced the poetry of V. Huidobro (1893–1948), the theoretician and leader of Chilean creacionismo (from the Spanish crear, “to create”). The work of Chile’s greatest poet, P. Neruda (1904–73), underwent a profound evolution during the 1930’s. The intimate lyrics and subjective verse of Residence on Earth (vols. 1–2, 1925–35), imbued with a despairing rejection of the world, gave way to the civic poetry of Spain in My Heart (1937) and then to General Song (1950), an epic about the land and people of Latin America. A desire to give philosophical meaning to reality is reflected in his Elementary Odes (1954–57) and the lyrical and grotesque poems of Estravagario (1958). Neruda’s poems of the 1960’s and 1970’s, published in 1974 in the collections Bells and the Sea and Elegies, attest to the breadth of his lyrical world.

After the first Popular Front government came to power in 1938, there was a heightened interest in social issues. Basic problems of national life were examined in several outstanding novels about the life of the proletariat: Blood and Hope (1943) by N. Guzman (1914–64), Coal (1953) by D. Muñoz (born 1903), The Big North (1944) by A. Sabella (born 1912), and Saltpeter (1954) and Pampas Dwellers (1956) by L. González Zenteno (1912–62). An optimistic portrayal of the workers’ struggle and political and spiritual evolution may be found in the novels Son of Saltpeter (1952) and Seed in the Sand (1957) by V. Teitelboim (born 1916) and the novels The Cell (1958; Russian translation, Olga, 1962) and Wind of Wrath (1961) by E. Delano (born 1910). In his books Cape Horn (1941), Tierra del Fuego (1956), and Route of the Whales (1962), F. Coloane depicts the inhabitants of Chile’s maritime regions struggling against the natural elements and social evils. Another fine novel, Prize Horse (1957) by F. Alegría (born 1918), portrays a man’s search for his identity in a hostile bourgeois society. In the novels of M. Rojas’ (1896–1973)— Son of a Thief (1951), Better Than Wine (1958), and Shadows on the Wall (1964)—social problems are refracted through the prism of the hero’s inner world.

New narrative techniques and psychological probing distinguish the prose of the 1950’s and 1960’s, notably the works of C. Droguett (born 1915) and J. Donoso (born 1926). The class struggle that shook Chile during the years that the Unidad Popular government was in power is evoked in G. Atias’ novels And the Money Flowed (1972) and Against the Current (1978). A documentary prose style became popular in the 1970’s. The fascist putsch of September 1973, by bringing on the persecution of progressive writers and publishers, interrupted the natural development of Chilean literature. Many writers who have emigrated are re-creating in their fictional works the tragic events of recent history. An outstanding example of such a work is A. Skarmeta’s novel I Dreamed of Burning Snow (1975).


Formirovanie natsional’nykh literatur Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1970.
Algería, F. Gorizonty realizma. Moscow, 1974.
Khudozhestvennoe svoeobrazie literatur Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1976.
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Merino Reyes, L. Perfil humano de la literatura chilena. Santiago [1967].
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Solar, H. del. Breve estudio y antología de los premios nacionales de literatura. [Santiago, 1965.]


The ancient art of the Chilean Indians, notably those living in the north, was associated with the advanced cultures of Peru. There are ruins of pre-Hispanic fortresses and settlements (one-or two-storey houses), often enclosed by high stone walls. Excavations have unearthed metal ornaments and painted figural pottery adorned with animal representations and geometric designs. Petroglyphs depicting peoples, llamas, and hunting scenes have been discovered. The pre-Hispanic traditions have to some extent been kept alive in Chilean folk art: the wooden grave posts with schematic figures made by the Araucanians, weaving, silver-work, pottery, painting, and wood carving. (SeeOCEANIA for the ancient culture of Easter Island.)

In the 16th century the Spaniards built forts, towns laid out in grid patterns, churches, and single-storey adobe houses with patios. Religious painting and sculpture made its appearance. The 18th and early 19th centuries saw the construction of town houses with inner courtyards, portals, and grillwork. Baroque and classical churches and palaces were designed by the architects J. Toesca y Richi and M. de Jara. Decorative painting and sculpture flourished, as well as portraiture and engraving (A. Santelices).

Eclecticism prevailed in architecture throughout the 19th century, to be replaced in the early 20th century by the art nouveau style. The leading artists of the mid-19th century were the portraitists F. J. Mandiola and A. Gana. In the second half of the 19th century P. Lira and M. A. Caro produced historical paintings on national subjects, portraits, and landscapes. Realism was strengthened at the turn of the century through the paintings of A. Valenzuela Llanos, E. Plaza, J. F. González, and A. Gordon and the sculpture of N. Plaza and V. Arias.

In the 20th century much attention has been given to town planning, particularly the rebuilding of the center of Santiago, and to adapting the traditions of folk architecture. Since about 1950 the principles of modern architecture have been employed by the architects S. Larrain, E. Duhart, R. Dávila, and J. Martinez in designing large industrial and public complexes, high-rise buildings, and residential districts on the outskirts of Santiago, Arica, and other cities. In painting and the graphic arts, along with the Montparnasse modernist group (headed by the cubist C. Mori), surrealism (R. Matta), and abstract art (N. Antúñez), there emerged the socially oriented realistic art of C. Hermosilla Alvarez, G. Nuñez, J. Venturelli, P. Lobos, and J. Escamez. Intimate lyrical images distinguish the paintings of E. Barreda and M. Lozano. Twentieth-century Chilean sculpture shows a predilection for monumental forms and the revival of ancient traditions (L. Dominguez, S. Roman Rojas).

The military fascist coup of 1973 arrested the development of Chile’s art.


Polevoi, V. M. Iskusstvo stran Latinskoi Atneriki. Moscow, 1967.
Kul’tura Chili. Moscow, 1968.
Montecino Montalva, S. Pintores y escultores de Chile. Santiago, 1970.

The country’s ancient musical culture has been preserved by the descendants of the Chilean aborigines, primarily the Araucanians, who have a remarkable variety of songs and dances, both solo and group. Among the favourite musical instruments of the Araucanians are the cultrung drum, the huada rattle, and the wind instruments called trutruka, lolkin, and pifilka. The Creole folk music of Chile is similar to that of Argentina. The most popular songs and song-and-dance forms are the tonada, the zamacueca (commonly called the cueca), and the cuando, performed to the accompaniment of a guitar, a harp, or a guitarrón.

Professional music arose at the time of the struggle for independence and the proclamation of the republic. A philharmonic society was founded in Santiago in 1827, and a music school was opened there in 1849, becoming a conservatory in 1851. The Teatro Municipal, founded in 1857, staged musical plays. Touring foreign companies figured prominently in the country’s musical life; the first operatic performances were given by an Italian company that visited the country in 1830. The most important 19th-century composers were M. Robles, J. Zapiola, and E. Ortiz de Zarate, who wrote the first Chilean opera, Flower Girl From Lugano (1895).

During the first half of the 20th century two main schools of composition emerged. A national style was championed by the composers C. Lavin, P. H. Allende Sarón, C. Isamitt Alarcón, R. Acevedo, and J. Urrutia Blondel, whereas European musical trends were closely followed by the composers E. Soro, D. Santa Cruz (Wilson), A. Letelier Liona, J. Orrego Salas (who moved to the USA in 1961), and G. Becerra.

Prominent musicians include the conductors A. Carvajal and V. Tevah, the pianists C. Arrau, J. Reyes, and F. Guerra, the violinist P. d’Andurain, and the folklorists and folk singers V. Parra and M. Loyola. The foremost musical groups and institutions, all located in Santiago, are the Symphony Orchestra of Chile (founded 1941), the Municipal Symphony Orchestra (1955), the Chorus of the University of Chile (1945), the Santiago String Quartet (1954), the National Conservatory, and the Institute for the Advancement of the Musical Arts (1940). The journal Revista Musical Chilena, founded in 1945 as Revista Musical, has appeared since 1946.

The military junta that seized power has ruthlessly persecuted the country’s progressive cultural figures. V. Jara, a performer of revolutionary songs, was brutally murdered in 1973. Many musicians have left the country.


Muzykal’naia kul’tura stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1974.
Pereira Salas, E. Historia de la música en Chile. Santiago, 1957.

As an independent art form Chilean ballet began to emerge during the 1940’s. Prior to that time ballet performances had been given by foreign, chiefly European, companies. In 1917–18 A. P. Pavlova’s company performed in Santiago for two seasons. One of the company’s male dancers, Ia. Kaevskii, opened a school in Santiago in 1921, serving as its director until 1938. In 1940 a German company headed by K. Jooss performed in Santiago. The next year the company’s dancers organized the School of Ballet, headed by E. Uthoff, which trained performers for the future national ballet. When a Chilean ballet company was formed in 1945, Uthoff was appointed its artistic director. The company, which made its debut in May 1945 with L. Delibes’s Coppélia, was named the Chilean National Ballet in 1957. After Uthoff, who retained his post until 1965, the company was directed by D. Carey, V. Roncal, and P. Bunster.

Among Uthoff’s most successful productions were The Legend of Joseph, based on music by R. Strauss (1947), Don Juan by C. W. Gluck (1950), and The Prodigal Son by S. S. Prokofiev (1955). In 1948, under the direction of Jooss, the company gave fine performances of The Green Table by F. Cohen, Big City, based on music by A. Tansman, and Youth, based on music by G. F. Handel as arranged by J. Orrego Safas. In 1951, M. Solari staged the first national ballet, Orrego Salas’ The Threshold of a Dream, which incorporated folk music. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, a growing interest in Latin American themes led to the production of Calaucan by the Mexican composer C. Chavez (1959, choreographer P. Bunster), A. Ginastera’s Suraso (1962, choreographer P. Bunster), and Orrego Salas’ Street Jugglers (1962, choreographer Uthoff). The eminent choreographers J. Taras (USA) and B. Cullberg (Sweden) have worked with the company. From the outset two trends coexisted in the Chilean ballet—the expressionist, including modern dance, and the classical, whose leading exponent was Solari.

During the 1950’s, the Chilean dancers V. Roncal, Bunster, O. Cintolesi, H. Baldrich, and Solari studied in Europe. On Solari’s initiative, the Soviet choreographer and teacher E. P. Valukin was invited in 1969 to teach in the ballet school attached to the University of Chile. Valukin remained there until 1972, training teachers and performers of classical dance and introducing improved teaching methods.

In 1949 a ballet company was formed at Santiago’s Teatro Municipal under the direction of V. Sulima. The company staged both expressionist and classical ballets, although showing a decided preference for the latter. From 1959, when it was named the Ballet of Modern Art, until 1966, the ballet was headed by Cintolesi. Upon receiving a municipal subsidy in 1965, the company was renamed the Municipal Ballet and subsequently became the country’s foremost dance company. Among its finest productions were Tender Youth by L. Bernstein (choreographer C. Reyes), Don Juan by Gluck (choreographer R. Adam), Can-Can, based on music by J. Offenbach (choreographer Hermannsen), and Chopiniana, based on music by F. Chopin (choreographer M. Fokine, revised by Cintolesi). From the 1950’s through the 1970’s the company’s soloists have included V. Roncal, Cintolesi, I. Milovan, H. Poll, J. Poldrig, E. Harli, and R. Galgillos.

The Teatro Municipal operates a school of ballet, founded in 1949 and headed by O. Montesino, and it sponsors the Pucará folklore ensemble. In 1969 the Ministry of Education founded the Young Ballet, a school and company headed by the choreographer and teacher H. Baldrich. The next year the Ballet Folklórico Nacional was established under the direction of R. Reys. Ballet companies have also been formed in Arica, Valdivia, Concepción, and Valparaíso. After the military fascist coup many progressive ballet dancers and choreographers emigrated.


The dances and rituals of the indigenous Indians, containing elements of dramatic action, may be regarded as the germ of Chile’s national theater. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Jesuits staged plays on religious subjects (incorporating folklore), chiefly during church holidays. The first such play was performed in 1646. In 1693 the comedy A Chilean Hercules by an unknown Chilean author was presented in Santiago during a festival. Along with religious productions, Spanish theatrical companies and local amateurs staged plays by Spanish playwrights. In 1709 the first theater building was erected in Santiago, and in 1791 a small theater was built in Valparaiso. The country’s first professional company was formed by J. Rubio in the latter half of the 18th century. The Coliseo Theater opened in Santiago in 1815.

Founded after Chile’s independence was proclaimed in 1818, the Ramadas Theater staged national plays, among them The Daughter of the South, or The Independence of Chile (1823) and The Chilean Girl (1827) by M. Magallanes. A theater founded at the University of Chile in 1842 was reorganized in 1857 as the Teatro Municipal. Throughout the 19th century theaters, including private ones, were established in many towns. An important contribution to the development of 19th-century Chilean theater was made by famous actors and directors from other Latin American countries, notably C. Aguilar, J. Casacuberta, F, Cáceres, and H. Morales. The plays of J. Egaña, S. Sanfuentes, C. W. Martinez, J. R. Allende, and D. Izquierdo enjoyed great popularity. The leading playwright of the second half of the 19th century was D. Barros Grez, whose best works include As in Santiago (1875), Birds of a Feather Flock Together (1879), Almost a Wedding (1881), and Rehearsal of a Comedy (1889).

The founding of the Association of Dramatists in 1912 was followed three years later by the establishment of the Association of Theater Actors, headed by the actor and playwright C. Carióla. The Syndicate of Theater Actors, founded in the 1920’s, merged with the Association of Theater Actors in 1954. The theatrical revival that occurred in the 1920’s owed much to the fine plays of V. D. Silva, E. Barrios, A. Moock, and particularly A. Acevedo Hernández, who wrote highly original social dramas drawn from the life of various strata of working people. Of great importance for the subsequent development of the country’s theater was the activity of the National Drama Company (founded 1913) and the Báguena-Bührle Troupe (formed 1917), which attracted the outstanding actors and directors A. Biihrle, L. Cordoba, A. Flores, and R. Frontaura. A major event was the establishment in 1941 of the Experimental Theater of the University of Chile, headed by the director P. de la Barra; in 1959 the theater was reorganized as the Theater Institute of the University of Chile. Drama groups were also formed at the Catholic University of Chile (1943) and at the university in Concepción. In 1946 a group of professional and amateur actors created the Independent Theater, which adopted the Stanislavsky method.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s theater festivals were held regularly, and works by the Chilean playwrights J. Díaz, L. A. Heire-mans, and I. Aguirre were frequently performed. Famous actors and directors included E. Gajardo, M. Frank, M. Maluenda, A. Siré, S. Pineiro, O. Escámez, and M. González. Under the Unidad Popular government amateur theater groups were organized by professional actors. About 500 such groups, composed of workers, peasants, and students, put on productions in schools, factory trade union centers, and rural settlements. Theater festivals of amateur and professional groups were held. The military fascist coup of 1973 put an abrupt end to the flowering of Chile’s theater arts; many persons connected with the theater have suffered persecution.


Durán-Cerda, J. El teatro chileno moderno. Santiago, 1963.
Escudero, A. M. Apuntes sobre el teatro en Chile, 2nd ed. Santiago, 1967.


The birth of Chile’s national cinema dates from 1902, when an anonymous cameraman filmed a fire being put out in Valparaiso. In 1907 the first documentary, called The President’s Funeral, was released. The gifted directors P. Sienna and N. de la Sotta began making films after 1910. In the 1920’s several film companies were founded in Santiago and Valparaiso: Giambastini Films, Chile Films, and Andes Films. From 1916 to 1932 more than 80 full-length films were made, among the best of which were Sienna’s The Clowns Depart (1921), The Wrench of Race (1922), and The Hussar of Death (1925, a historical film about the struggle for national independence); de la Sotta’s The Swallow (1924) and Youth, Love, and Sin (1926); M. Derval’s Why Did This Woman Commit a Crime? (1924); and J. Delano’s Light and Shadow (1926) and Dream Street (1929). These socially conscious films are notable for their humanitarian message.

The first sound film, North and South, was made by Delano in 1934. In the second half of the 1930’s two or three full-length motion pictures were released annually, as well as short films, news-reels, and documentaries. The director M. Frank made the outstanding film Dawn of Hope in 1941. Among the few exceptions to the commercial, pseudofolkloric films that were churned out in the 1940’s were Delano’s sociopolitical comedies The Girl From Crillón (1941) and This Is Hollywood (1944). The general economic crisis of the late 1940’s brought the motion-picture industry virtually to a standstill. By 1949 only one or two feature films were being produced annually, and the country’s screens were filled with American motion pictures.

A new era in film-making began in the late 1950’s. A film institute established in 1957 by the University of Chile in Santiago produced documentaries. An experimental motion-picture center and a film library were founded in 1960. Young film-makers revived social themes and dealt with political events (Return to Silence, 1966, directed by N. Kramarenco). The political struggle of the late 1960’s was reflected in such progressive films as The Jackal of Nahueltoro (1969, directed by M. Littin) and Three Sad Tigers (1968, directed by R. Ruiz). Social concern and a high artistic level mark the films Bloody Saltpeter (1969, directed by H. Soto), The House We Live In (1970, directed by P. Kaulen), Valparaiso, My Love! (1970, directed by A. Francia), and Araucana (1971, directed by J. Coll), a joint production with Spain and Italy.

Under the Unidad Popular government the state studio Chile Films was formed with Littin as president. The “Political Manifesto: Cinematographers and the UP Government,” issued in 1971, called for the creation of a genuinely national and humanistic revolutionary cinema. Films were made that have become part of the golden treasury of Latin-American cinema: Comrade President (1970, directed by Littin), Oath and Gun (1971, directed by H. Soto), Witnesses (1971, directed by C. Elsesser), The Benefactor (1973, directed by B. Gebel), and The Promised Land (1973, directed by Littin). During S. Allende’s years in office 13 feature films and 150 documentaries were made. The leading film stars were M. Romo, T. Ferrada, L. Perucci, E. Guzman, and C. Paz. Chile had 310 motion-picture theaters, three of them equipped with wide screens.

After the fascist junta seized power, progressive film-makers were subjected to repression, and many felt compelled to emigrate. American films again filled the country’s screens.


Novikova, L. S. “Iz istorii chiliiskogo kino.” In the collection Kul’tura Chili. Moscow, 1968.
Godoy Quesada, M. Historia del cine chileno, 1902–1966. Santiago, 1966.

V. A. KISLOV [29–565–6; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Chile

Capital city: Santiago

Internet country code: .cl

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 United States flag

National anthem: “Cancion Nacionale de Chile” (National Song of Chile; first line: “Puro Chile, es tu cielo azulado”), lyrics by Eusebio Lillo, music by Ramón Carnicer

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

Total area: 302,778 sq. mi. (756,945 sq. km.)

Climate: Temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in cen­tral region; cool and damp in south

Nationality: noun: Chilean(s); adjective: Chilean

Population: 16,284,741 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Spanish descent and mixed Spanish-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 3%, other 2%

Languages spoken: Spanish

Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Army DaySep 19
Assumption DayAug 15
Battle of Iquique DayMay 21
Christmas DayDec 25
EasterApr 23, 2011; Apr 7, 2012; Mar 30, 2013; Apr 19, 2014; Apr 4, 2015; Mar 26, 2016; Apr 15, 2017; Mar 31, 2018; Apr 20, 2019; Apr 11, 2020; Apr 3, 2021; Apr 16, 2022; Apr 8, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Holy SaturdayApr 23, 2011; Apr 7, 2012; Mar 30, 2013; Apr 19, 2014; Apr 4, 2015; Mar 26, 2016; Apr 15, 2017; Mar 31, 2018; Apr 20, 2019; Apr 11, 2020; Apr 3, 2021; Apr 16, 2022; Apr 8, 2023
Immaculate ConceptionDec 8
Independence DaySep 18
Labor DayMay 1
Lady of Carmen DayJul 16
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in South America, on the Pacific, with a total length of about 4090 km (2650 miles) and an average width of only 177 km (110 miles): gained independence from Spain in 1818; the government of President Allende (elected 1970) attempted the implementation of Marxist policies within a democratic system until overthrown by a military coup (1973); democracy restored 1988. Chile consists chiefly of the Andes in the east, the Atacama Desert in the north, a central fertile region, and a huge S region of almost uninhabitable mountains, glaciers, fjords, and islands; an important producer of copper, iron ore, nitrates, etc. Language: Spanish. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: peso. Capital: Santiago. Pop.: 15 997 000 (2004 est.). Area: 756 945 sq. km (292 256 sq. miles).
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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Chubb also gains exclusive rights to sell insurance products currently distributed by Banco de Chile, including credit life, home and fire, theft/personal protection, personal accident, supplemental health, travel and a variety of commercial products.
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Enel Chile is in the process of acquiring the Chilean renewable generation assets from Enel Green Power Latin America S.A.
Ambassador Tarud conveyed greetings and well wishes of the leadership of Chile and expressed the desire to work for strengthening Pakistan-Chile relations.
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