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Chile

800px-Flag_of_Chile.svg

Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Along with Ecuador, it is one of two countries in South America that do not border Brazil. The Pacific coastline of Chile is 6,435 kilometres (4000 mi). Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas and Easter Island. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.The shape of Chile is a distinctive ribbon of land 4,300 kilometres (2,700 mi) long and on average 175 kilometres (109 mi) wide. Its climate varies, ranging from the world's driest desert – the Atacama – in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a rainy temperate climate in the south. The northern desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century, when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Chile declared its independence from Spain on February 12, 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its current northern territory. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche were completely subjugated. Although relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that blighted South America, Chile endured the 17-year long military dictatorship (1973–1990) of Augusto Pinochet that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.Today, Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations and a recognized middle power. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and state of peace. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development. However, it has a high economic inequality, as measured by the Gini index. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD.Chile is a founding member of both the United Nations and the Union of South American Nations.

History

About 10,000 years ago, migrating Native Americans settled in fertile valleys and coastal areas of what is present-day Chile. Example settlement sites from the very early human habitation are Monte Verde, Cueva del Milodon and the Pali Aike Crater's lava tube. The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the Mapuche (or Araucanians as they were known by the Spaniards) successfully resisted many attempts by the Inca Empire to subjugate them, despite their lack of state organization. They fought against the Sapa Inca Tupac Yupanqui and his army. The result of the bloody three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the territories of Chile ended at the Maule river.In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the earth, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the southern passage now named after him, the Strait of Magellan. The next Europeans to reach Chile were Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors, who came from Peru in 1535 seeking gold. The Spanish encountered various cultures that supported themselves principally through slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. The conquest of Chile began in earnest in 1540 and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, one of Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants, who founded the city of Santiago on February 12, 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Spanish Empire.Conquest of the land took place gradually, and the Europeans suffered repeated setbacks at the hands of the local population. A massive Mapuche insurrection that began in 1553 resulted in Valdivia's death and the destruction of many of the colony's principal settlements. Subsequent major insurrections took place in 1598 and in 1655. Each time the Mapuche and other native groups revolted, the southern border of the colony was driven northward. The abolition of slavery by the Spanish crown in 1683 was done in recognition that enslaving the Mapuche intensified resistance rather than cowing them into submission. Despite the royal prohibitions relations remained strained from continual colonialist interference.Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Mapuche, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by both the Mapuche and Spain's European enemies, especially the British and the Dutch. Buccaneers and English adventurers menaced the colony in addition to the Mapuche, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake's 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the colony's principal port. Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, making it one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of the Viceroyalty of Peru.The first general census was performed by the government of Agustín de Jáuregui between 1777 and 1778; it indicated that the population consisted of 259,646 inhabitants: 73.5% of European descent, 7.9% mestizos, 8.6% Indians and 9.8% blacks. Francisco Hurtado, Governor of the province of Chiloé, conducted a census there in 1784 and found the population consisted of 26,703 inhabitants, 64.4% of which were whites and 33.5% of which were natives.The Diocese of Concepción conducted a census of areas south of the Maule river in 1812, but did not include the indigenous population or the inhabitants of the province of Chiloé. The population is estimated at 210,567, 86.1% of which were Spanish or of European descent, 10% of which were Indians and 3.7% of which were mestizos, blacks and mulattos.

 
Independence

The usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph in 1808 precipitated the drive by the colony for independence from Spain. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand – heir to the deposed king – was formed on September 18, 1810. The Government Junta of Chile proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy (in memory of this day Chile celebrates its National Day on September 18 each year). After these events, a movement for total independence, under the command of José Miguel Carrera (one of the most renowned patriots) and his two brothers Juan José and Luis Carrera, soon gained a wider following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle, including infighting from Bernardo O'Higgins, who challenged Carrera's leadership.Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. With Carrera in prison in Argentina, O'Higgins and anti-Carrera cohort José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, led an army that crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained powerful.

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War of the Pacific: The Battle of Iquique on May 21, 1879

Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by suppressing the Mapuche during the Occupation of Araucanía. A treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan was signed in 1881. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third, eliminating Bolivia's access to the Pacific, and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence.The Chilean Civil War in 1891 brought about a redistribution of power between the President and Congress, and Chile established a parliamentary style democracy. However, the Civil War had also been a contest between those who favored the development of local industries and powerful Chilean banking interests, particularly the House of Edwards who had strong ties to foreign investors.

21st century

Frei Ruiz-Tagle was succeeded in 2000 by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, who won the presidency in an unprecedented runoff election against Joaquín Lavín of the rightist Alliance for Chile. In January 2006, Chileans elected their first female president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party, defeating Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, extending the Concertación government for another four years. In January 2010, Chileans elected Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, as the first rightist President in 20 years, defeating former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of the Concertación, for a four-year term succeeding Bachelet.On February 27, 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 MW earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded in the world. As many as 500 people died; hundreds of thousands of buildings were damaged. The earthquake was also followed by multiple aftershocks. Initial damage estimates were in the range of US$15–30 billion, around 10% to 15% of Chile real gross domestic product. On March 11, 2010, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake occurred southwest of Pichilemu, O'Higgins Region. The earthquake was felt across much of Chile.On August 5, 2010 an access tunnel caved in at the San José copper and gold mine. 33 miners were trapped 700 meters underground. The miners were discovered alive on August 22; it took nearly two more months before an escape path could be created to rescue the miners. In a 24-hour period between October 12 and 13, more than 1 billion people watched the culmination of the two-month rescue live on television networks around the world. The survival of the San José miners surpasses a 25-day rescue of three coal miners from a flooded mine in Guizhou, China, in 2009.

Geography & Climates

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. Including its offshore islands, but excluding its Antarctic claim, Chile lies between latitudes 17° and 56°S, and longitudes 66° and 81°W.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 center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th 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. However, this latter claim is suspended under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, of which Chile is a signatory.[66]Chile controls Easter Island and Sala y Gómez Island, the easternmost islands of Polynesia, which it incorporated to its territory in 1888, and Robinson Crusoe Island, more than 600 kilometres (370 mi) from the mainland, in the Juan Fernández Islands. Easter Island is today a province of Chile. Also controlled but only temporarily inhabited (by some local fishermen) are the small islands of Sala y Gómez, San Ambrosio and San Felix. These islands are notable because they extend Chile's claim to territorial waters out from its coast into the Pacific.

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Parinacota Volcano in northern Chile

The climate of 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).
 

Biodiversity

Animals

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. Among800px-Sephanoides_fernandensis the larger mammals are the puma or cougar, the llama-like Guanaco 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.

Fungi

Just over 3000 species of fungi recorded from Chile, but this number is far from complete. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Chile, including species not yet recorded, is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered. Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Chile, and 1995 species have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country.

Plants

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 Biobío 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 neighboring Argentina, indicating that the Andean barrier existed during its formation. Chilean species include the monkey-puzzle tree, part of the pine-like Araucaria genus centered in New Caledonia, and southern beeches.

Tourism

Tourism in Chile has experienced sustained growth over the last few decades. In 2005, tourism grew by 13.6%, generating more than 4.5 billion dollars of which 1.5 billion is attributed to foreign tourists. According to the National Service of Tourism (Sernatur), 2 million people a year visit the country. Most of these visitors come from other countries in the American continent, mainly Argentina; followed by a growing number from the United States, Europe, and Brazil with a growing number of Asians from South Korea and PR China.The main attractions for tourists are places of natural beauty situated in the extreme zones of the country: San Pedro de Atacama, in the north, is very popular with foreign tourists who arrive to admire the Incaic architecture, the altiplano lakes, and the Valley of the Moon. In Putre, also in the North, there is800px-BeagleChannelGlacier the Chungará Lake, as well as the Parinacota and the Pomerape volcanoes, with altitudes of 6,348 m and 6,282 m, respectively. Throughout the central Andes there are many ski resorts of international repute, including Portillo, Valle Nevado and Termas de Chillán. The main tourist sites in the south are the coastal area around Tirúa and Cañete with the Isla Mocha and the Nahuelbuta National Park, Chiloé Archipelago and Patagonia, which includes Laguna San Rafael National Park, with its many glaciers, and the Torres del Paine National Park. The central port city of Valparaíso, which is World Heritage with its unique architecture, is also popular. Finally, Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean is one of the main Chilean tourist destinations.For locals, tourism is concentrated mostly in the summer (December to March), and mainly in the coastal beach towns. Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the main summer centres in the north, and Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica is the main centre in the south. Because of its proximity to Santiago, the coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many beach resorts, receives the largest number of tourists. Viña del Mar, Valparaíso's northern affluent neighbor, is popular because of its beaches, casino, and its annual song festival, the most important musical event in Latin America. Pichilemu in the O'Higgins Region is widely known as South America's "best surfing spot," according to Fodor's. In November 2005, the government launched a campaign under the brand "Chile: All Ways Surprising," intended to promote the country internationally for both business and tourism.

Culture & Cuisine

During the period between early agricultural settlements and to the late pre-Hispanic period, northern Chile was a region of Andean culture that was influenced by altiplano traditions spreading to the coastal valleys of the north. While southern regions were areas of Mapuche cultural activities. Through the colonial period following the conquest, and during the early Republican period, the country's culture was dominated by the Spanish. Other European influences, primarily English, French, and German began in the 19th century and have continued to this day. German migrants influenced the Bavarian style rural architecture and cuisine in the south of Chile in cities such as Valdivia, Frutillar, Puerto Varas, Osorno, Temuco, Puerto Octay, Llanquihue, Faja Maisan, Pitrufquén, Victoria, Pucón and Puerto Montt.Music in Chile ranges from folkloric music, popular music and also to classical music. Its large geography generates different musical expressions in the north, center and south of the country, including also Easter Island and Mapuche music. The national dance is the cueca. Another form of traditional Chilean song, though not a dance, is the tonada. Arising from music imported by the Spanish colonists, it is distinguished from the cueca by an intermediate melodic section and a more prominent melody.Between 1950 and 1970 appears a rebirth in folk music leading by groups such as Los de Ramon, Los Cuatro Cuartos and Los Huasos Quincheros, among others with composers such as Raul de Ramon, Violeta Parra and others. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized by the Parra family with the Nueva Canción Chilena, which was Chilean_Cazuelaassociated with political activists and reformers such as Victor Jara and Inti-Illimani. Other important folk singer and researcher on folklore and Chilean ethnography, is Margot Loyola. Also many Chilean Rock bands like Los Jaivas, Los Prisioneros, La Ley, and Los Tres have reached international success.Chilean cuisine is a reflection of the country's topographical variety, featuring an assortment of seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional recipes include asado, cazuela, empanadas, humitas, pastel de choclo, pastel de papas, curanto and sopaipillas.[158] Crudos is an example of the mixture of culinary contributions from the various ethnic influences in Chile. The raw minced llama, heavy use of shellfish and rice bread were taken from native Quechua Andean cuisine, (although now beef brought to Chile by Europeans is also used in place of the llama meat), lemon and onions were brought by the Spanish colonists, and the use of mayonnaise and yogurt was introduced by German immigrants, as was beer.

 

Rodeochileno1

Rodeo in Chile

 

Currency

Currency in Chile: Chilean peso (CLP)

July 2011:

1 US Dollar = 456.610 Chilean Peso 

1 Chilean Peso (CLP) = 0.002190 US Dollar (USD)

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