Flag description: the square has a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue represents the sky; white represents the snow-covered Andes; red represents the blood shed for independence.


NAME:                           República de Chile

POPULATION:              16,300,000 (2007)

ETHNIC GROUPS:        Mestizo (95%); Amerindian (3%); white (2%)

CAPITAL:                      Santiago (4,600,000)

LANGUAGES:               Spanish (official)

RELIGION:                    Roman Catholic (70%); Protestant (15%); Other (15%)

LIFE EXPECTANCY:    men (74); women (80)

FERTILITY RATE:         2.02 / 2.00

LITERACY:                    96%

GOVERNMENT:           Democratic republic  

            President:            Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (2006 - )

            Legislature:          Bicameral Congreso Nacional

            Judiciary:             Corte Suprema

CONSTITUTION:         1980 (revised many times since)

MILITARY:                    99,000 active troops

ECONOMY:                  copper (world’s largest producer), fish, grain, grapes, wine

MONEY:                        peso (Chilean peso; CLP) (530 / $1.00 US)

NATURAL RESOURCES:   copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower

GEOGRAPHY:               Highest peak: Nevado Ojos del Salado (6,880 m. / 22,572 ft)

                                       Bordering countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Perú

                                       2,650 miles of Pacific coast; width = 100-250 miles; Atacama Desert in north (hot, dry, in various places in desert it has never rained); glaciers in south  (cold and damp); Punta Arenas (70,000, on southern peninsula tip) is world’s most southerly city




            31,000 B.C.     Possible human remains at Monte Verde

            11,000 B.C.     definite human remains at Monte Verde

            1000                Mapuche people

            1400                Northern Chile included in Inca Empire

            1520                Juan de Elcano (on Magellan’s ship) visited Tierra del Fuego for Spain (Tierra del Fuego is largest island in southern archipelago with mountains, channels, and high winds; western part of island belongs to Chile).

            1533-1594       Alonso de Ercilla, conquistador and writer of Chilean epic poem.

            1536                Diego de Almagro discovered Chile

            1540                Pedro de Valdivia conquered Chile with 150 Spaniards and 1000 Mapuches

            1541                Santiago founded

            1553                Lautaro, leader of Araucanos captured and killed Valdivia.

            1590                Ercilla finishes writing: La araucana, epic poem about Caupolicán, tragic Araucanian rebel leader.

            1810                September 18:  Cabildo  electes junta to save Chile for Fernando VII, king of Spain

            1817                José de San Martín marches Argentinian troops over Andes to help free Chile; major military feat in harsh winter to surprise royalists in Santiago.

                                    José de San Martín and Bernardo O'Higgins (Chilean national hero) defeat Spanish royalist army at Chacabuco, Chile.

                                    Criollos in Santiago, Chile, elect San Martín governor of Chile; he refuses all honors, and moves his army north.

            1818                Final victory of independence at Maipú

            1818-1823       O'Higgins dictator.

            1836-1839       War with Perú.

            1836-1843       Andrés Bello (great Venezuelan man of letters) stimulates cultural activity.

            1842                National University founded with Bello as rector

            1879-1883       War of the Pacific: Chile gains mineral deposits in Atacama Desert in north

            1889-1957       Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy Alcayaga), poet, Nobel Prize 1945

            1904-1973       Pablo Neruda (Neftalí icardo Reyes Basoalto), poet , Nobel Prize, 1971

            1939                Major earthquake in Chillán

            1945                Nobel Prize for literature won by Gabriela Mistral

            1958                Jorge Alessandri (conservative) president

            1960                Earthquakes caused $200,000,000,000 in damages

            1964                Eduardo Frei Montalvo elected president at head of the Demócrata Cristiano party

            1970                Salvador Allende Gossens elected socialist president by Unidad Popular coalition

            1971                Nobel Prize for literature for Pablo Neruda

            1973                Sept. 11:  Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte led coup and killed Allende

            1973-1990       Pinochet dictator

                                    3,100 human rights violations under military rule as determined by Chilean humans rights groups

                                    Under Pinochet dictatorship: four-person Junta composed of heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police constituted the government

            1975                Movimiento de Unidad Nacional (MUN)  established by junta as political party

            1988                Oct. 5: Plebiscite on Pinochet as President/Dictator until 1997: Voters reject Pinochet and call for return to democracy

            1989                Dec. 13: Patricio Aylwin elected President in free election (55% vote)

            1990                Aylwin assumes presidency

            1994                Mar. 11: Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (Christian Democrat) elected president

            1998                Hernán Castellano promotes novel Calducho o la serpiente de calle Ahumada  on tour of the Chile and the Cono Sur.

            2000                Ricardo Lagos, President, Partido Demócrata Cristiano

            2006                Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Socialist Party of Chile; served previously as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos; she is a separated mother of three and she calls herself an agnostic; she speaks Spanish, English, German, Portuguese, French, and Russian)

            2007                Major earthquake (7.7) hits northern Chile near Antofagasta; it was felt as far away as the capital, Santiago, and São Paulo, Brazil.


GOVERNMENT:  Constitutional democracy: presidency, legislature, judicial



            Minister of Interior

            Minister of Foreign Relations (Relaciones Exteriores)




            Natinal Resources (Bienes Nacionales)

            General Secretary of the Government



            La Alianza Democrática (political pact of 14 democratic parties: leader: Aylwin)

            Christian Democrats (leader: Gabriel Valdés; Genaro Arriagado, leader of Command for Norht; Patricio Aylwin, spokesman for Command for No; Sergio Molina, head of Committee for Free Elections)

            National Party: Partido de Renovación Nacional: Sergio Onofre Jarpa, president (fascist)

            Chilean Mineworkers Union (leader: Rodolfo Seguel)

            Cardinal Juan  Francisco Fresno, Roman Catholic Church

            Partido Socialista, president, Clodomiro Almeyda (exile 1973-87)

            Partido Comunista (vice-president, Volodia Teitelboim)

            MIR (Movimiento Izquierdista Revolucionario; extreme left-wing revolutionary movement)



            Alonso de Ercilla (1533-1595, Spain), La Araucana  (epic poem, 1588)

            Eduardo Barrios (1884-1963), early twentieth-century costumbrista novelist

            Ricardo Rojas (), mid-twentieth century neo-realist novelist

            Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948), poet (Creationism)

            Pablo Neruda (1903-1973) , poet, La residencia en la tierra  (1933) (Vanguardism)

            Ariel Dorfman (1942 -), novelist, La última canción de Manuel Sendero  (1987) (Magical Realism)

            Volodia Teitelboin, essayist, vice-president of Communist Party, Neruda  (1984) (Social Realist)

            Fernando Alegría (1918 - ), novelist, Historia de la novela latinoamericana   (Neo-Realism)

            Isabel Allende (1942 - ), novelist, La casa de los espíritus  (1985) (Pseudo Magical Realism)

            Enrique Lihn (1929-1989), poet: Diario de muerte (1989)

            Gonzalo Rojas, poet (contemporary)

            Nicanor Parra (1914 - ), poet, Antipoemas  (1953)

            Antonio Skármeta (1940 - ), essayist, novelist: El cartero de Neruda (1985)

            Humberto Díaz Casanueva , diplomat

            Jorge Edwards (1931 - ), novelist, essayist, El convidado de piedra  (1982) (Magical Realism)

            Pedro Lastra (b. 1933 - ), poet, Y éramos inmortales  (1967) (Generación de 1950)

            Federico Schopf, essayist

            José Donoso (1924 – 1996), novelist, El obsceno pájaro de la noche  (1967) (Magical Realism)

            Hernán Castellano Girón (b.1937) , poet, Los crepúsculos  (1984) (Surrealist)

            Ricardo Lagos (1938 - ), head of Political Science Institute at U. Chile until 1973; lawyer 1983-88 (Socialist)

            Raúl Zurita (b. 1952 - ), poet, Anteparaíso  (1984)