Setting the scene Chile 2011

With thanks to Wikipedia

On February 27, 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 Mm earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded in the world. As many as 1,000 people died; hundreds of thousands of buildings were damaged. Initial damage estimates were in the range of 15–30 billion USD, around 10–15% of Chile real gross domestic product. On March 11, 2010 the U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 7.2-magnitude quake hit Chile south of the capital. A long and narrow coastal Southern Cone country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile stretches over 4,630 kilometres (2,880 mi) north to south, but only 430 kilometres (265 mi) at its widest point east to west. This encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes. It contains 756,950 square kilometres (292,260 sq mi) of land area. It is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalisations difficult. According to the Köppen system, Chile within its borders hosts at least seven major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the north, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and south east, humid subtropical in Easter Island, Oceanic in the south and Mediterranean climate in central Chile. There are four seasons in most of the country: summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November).

Chile's botanical zones conform to the topographic and climatic regions. The northernmost coastal and central region is largely barren of vegetation, approaching the most closely an absolute desert in the world. On the slopes of the Andes, besides the scattered tola desert brush, grasses are found. The central valley is characterized by several species of cactus, the hard espinos, the Chilean pine, and the Copihue, a red bell-shaped flower that is Chile's national flower.

In southern Chile, south of the Bío-Bío River, the heavy precipitation has produced dense forests of laurels, magnolias, and various species of conifers and beeches, which become smaller and more stunted to the south. The cold temperatures and winds of the extreme south preclude heavy forestation. Grassland is found in Atlantic Chile (in Patagonia). Much of the Chilean flora is distinct from that of neighbouring Argentina, indicating that the Andean barrier existed during its formation.  Chilean species include the monkey-puzzle tree, part of the pine-like Araucaria genus cantered in New Caledonia, and southern beeches.

Chile's geographical isolation also has restricted the immigration of faunal life, so that only a few of the many distinctive Latin American animals are found. Among the larger mammals are the puma or cougar, the llama-like Guanaco, the Andean Wolf, and the fox-like chilla. In the forest region, several types of marsupials and a small deer known as the pudu are found. There are many species of small birds, but most of the larger common Latin American types are absent. Few freshwater fish are native, but North American trout have been successfully introduced into the Andean lakes. Owing to the vicinity of the Humboldt Current, ocean waters abound with fish and other forms of marine life, which in turn support a rich variety of waterfowl, including different penguins. Whales are abundant, and some six species of seals are found in the area.

The Chilean economy partially degenerated into a system protecting the interests of a ruling oligarchy, although not really comparable in harshness or corruption to the type of military dictatorship that has often bedevilled the rest of Latin America and certainly not comparable to the violent and repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet decades later

An economic depression that began in 1967 peaked in 1970, exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank, the banking sector was nationalized. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the Allende administration's first year.

Simultaneously, opposition media, politicians, business guilds and other organizations, helped to accelerate a campaign of domestic political and economical destabilization, some of which was helped by the United States. By early 1973, inflation was out of control.Finally, a military coup overthrew Allende on September 11, 1973.

In the late 1980s, the government gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and political activity. The government launched market-oriented reforms, which have continued ever since. Chile moved toward a free market economy that saw an increase in domestic and foreign private investment, although the copper industry and other important mineral resources were not opened for competition.


 

The northern Atacama Desert contains great mineral wealth, primarily copper and nitrates. The relatively small Central Valley, which includes Santiago, dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area also is the historical centre from which Chile expanded in the late nineteenth century, when it integrated the northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests, grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border. Chile is the longest north-south country in the world, and also claims 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as part of its territory.


Lake Conguillo

Economy of Chile a decade of impressive growth rates, Chile began to experience a moderate economic downturn in 1999, brought on by unfavourable global economic conditions related to the Asian financial crisis, which began in 1997

Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth and reduced poverty rates by over half The 1973–90 military government sold many state-owned companies, and the three democratic governments since 1990 have continued privatization, though at a slower pace. The government's role in the economy is mostly limited to regulation, although the state continues to operate copper giant plant and a few other enterprises (there is one state-run bank). Chile is strongly committed to free trade and has welcomed large amounts of foreign investment. Chile has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with a whole network of countries, including an FTA with the United States, which was signed in 2003 and implemented in January 2004.

Over the last several years, Chile has signed FTAs with the European Union, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, China, and Japan. It reached a partial trade agreement with India in 2005 and began negotiations for a full-fledged FTA with India in 2006. Chile conducted trade negotiations in 2007 with Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand, as well as with China to expand an existing agreement beyond just trade in goods. Chile concluded FTA negotiations with Australia and the expanded agreement with China in 2008. The members of the P4 (Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, and Brunei) also plan to conclude a chapter on finance and investment in 2008. The economic international organization the OECD agreed to invite Chile to be among four countries to open discussions in becoming an official member. It was invited to join the organization in December 2009, and accepted in January 2010.

Domestic savings and investment rates helped propel Chile's economy to average growth rates of 8% during the 1990s. The privatized national pension system (AFP) has encouraged domestic investment and contributed to an estimated total domestic savings rate of approximately 21% of GDP. However, the AFP is not without its critics, who cite low participation rates (only 55% of the working population is covered), with groups such as the self-employed outside the system. There has also been criticism of the inefficiency and high costs because of a lack of competition among pension funds. Critics cite loopholes in the use of pension savings through lump sum withdraws for the purchase of a second home or payment of university fees as fundamental weaknesses of the AFP

Unemployment hovered in the 8%–10% range after the start of the economic slowdown. The percentage of Chileans with household incomes below the poverty line-defined as twice the cost of satisfying a person's minimal nutritional needs-fell from 45.1% in 1987 to 13.7% in 2006, according to government polls. Critics in Chile, however, argue true poverty figures are considerably higher than those officially published, because the government uses an outdated 1987 household budget poll, updated every 10 years. has not exceeded 5% since 1998. Chile registered an inflation rate of 3.2% in 2006. The Chilean peso's rapid appreciation against the U.S. dollar in recent years has helped dampen inflation. The Chilean Government has formed a Council on Innovation and Competition, which is tasked with identifying new sectors and industries to promote. It is hoped that this, combined with some tax reforms to encourage domestic and foreign investment in research and development.

Faced with an international economic downturn the government announced a $4 billion economic stimulus plan to spur employment and growth despite the global financial crisis, aiming for an expansion of between 2 percent and 3 percent of GDP for 2009.


 

Beagle Channel

Chile produces more than a third of the world's copper2006 was a record year for Chilean trade. Chile thus recorded a positive trade balance of US$23 billion in 2006.

Total trade with Europe also grew in 2006, expanding by 42%. The Netherlands and Italy were Chile's main European trading partners. Total trade with Asia also grew significantly at nearly 31%. Trade with Korea and Japan grew significantly, but China remained Chile's most important trading partner in Asia. Chile's total trade with China reached U.S. $8.8 billion in 2006, representing nearly 66% of the value of its trade relationship with Asia.

Chile is the world's fifth largest exporter of wine. The growth of exports in 2006 was mainly caused by a strong increase in sales to the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan

Chile's overall trade profile has traditionally been dependent upon copper exports. The state-owned firm CODELCO is the world's largest copper-producing company, with recorded copper reserves of 200 years. Chile has made an effort to expand non-traditional exports. The most important non-mineral exports are forestry and wood products, fresh fruit and processed food, fishmeal and seafood, and wine.

Population of Chile from 1820, projected up to 2050Chile's 2002 census reported a population of 15,116,435. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, because of a declining birth rate. By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million. About 85% of the country's population lives in urban areas, with 40% living in Greater Santiago

A study conducted by the University of Chile found that within the Chilean population 30% are European descent; the mestizo component of predominantly white ancestry is estimated at an additional 65%. Other study of the University of Chile and other found a white majority that would exceed 60% to 90% of the Chilean population.

The white segment of Chile's populace consists mainly of people descended from colonial Spanish settlers (predominantly Basque), and to a lesser extent, of people of German, Italian, Irish, French, English, Swiss and Croat ancestry, singly or combined with each other. The mestizo segment, in this respect, derives its European component from colonial Spanish settlers (mainly Andalusia’s and Castilians), while it’s Amerindian component derives from various tribes or nations, mainly Picunches and Mapuches.

Chile is relatively homogeneous, with the majority of the people sharing a common ethnic identity stemming from what is known locally as Chilenidad.

The 1907 census reported 101,118 Indians, or 3.1% of the total country population. Only those that practiced their native culture or spoke their native language were considered, irrespective of their "racial purity."

At the 2002 census, only indigenous people that still practiced a native culture or spoke a native language were surveyed: 4.6% of the population (692,192 people) fit that description; of these, 87.3% declared themselves Mapuche although most show varying degrees of mixed ancestry.

Chile is one of the twenty countries to have signed and ratified the only binding international law concerning indigenous, significant numbers of non-Spanish immigrants have arrived in Chile, from various countries and regions, including Italy, Ireland, France, Greece, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Scotland, Croatia, and Palestine.

It is estimated that nearly five percent of the Chilean population, or about 800,000 persons, are of Asian origin, chiefly from the Middle East (these include, most notably, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Middle Eastern Armenians). Note that Israelis, both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the nation of Israel, may be included. Chile is home to a large population of immigrants, mostly Christian.

European emigration to Chile (and to a lesser extent, the arrivals from Middle East), during the second half of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, was the most important in Latin America after that to the Atlantic.

Descendants of different European ethnic groups often intermarried in Chile, diluting the cultures and separate identities of the home countries and fusing them together and with the descendants of the original Basque-Castilian aristocracy of the colonial period while at the same time preserving some separate aspects. This intermarriage and mixture has help shape the present society and culture of the Chilean middle and upper classes, who now enjoy varied elements of their original European cultures, such as British afternoon tea, German cakes, and Italian pasta. The fusion is visible in the architecture of Chilean cities. These classes do, however, frequently deprecate Chilean folk culture, an offshoot of the culture of the Spaniards who settled the country in the colonial period.

Chile has recently become a new magnet for immigrants, mostly from neighbouring Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia. Catholic Church in Achao, Quinchao Island In the most recent census (2002), 70 percent of the population over age 14 identified as Roman Catholic and 15.1 percent as evangelical. In the census, the term "evangelical" referred to all non-Catholic Christian churches with the exception of the Orthodox Church (Greek, Persian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Armenian), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Approximately 90 percent of evangelicals are Pentecostal. Wesleyan, Lutheran, Reformed Evangelical, Presbyterian, Anglican, Episcopalian, Baptist, and Methodist churches are also present. Irreligious people, atheists and agnostics, account for around 8% of the population.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

Church and state are officially separate. The 1999 law on religion prohibits religious discrimination; however, the Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status and occasionally receives preferential treatment. Government officials attend Catholic events and also major Protestant and Jewish ceremonies.


 

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