WELCOME TO CHILE
Located in the southernmost part of the world, Chile is a unique country nestled between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is a long and narrow strip of land, with more than 2,670 miles of coastline, and an average width of 117 miles. This special geographical position and shape creates an excellent location for growing fresh fruit and vegetables.
Chile’s geography is unusually diverse and rich in contrasts. The Atacama Desert in the north is the driest desert in the world. But the central region of the country is home to fertile valleys that lay between the Andes Mountains in the east and the Coastal mountain range to the west, consisting of both flat land and rolling hills.
In southern Chile there is an abundance of lakes and forests, with the extreme south having harsh winds and eternal ice of the Antarctic.
Civil and Political System
Chile is a democratic republic with an executive branch led by the president; a legislative branch with two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate; and a judicial branch. All three branches are independent and autonomous.
To promote decentralization of administrative authority, the country is divided into 13 regions, with Region I located in the north and Region XII in the south. The Santiago Metropolitan Region, located in the center of the country, is Region XIII.
People, Language and Religion
According to the most recent census, Chile’s total population is 15,116,435, with an annual growth rate of 1.2%. The people of Chile come from many different national and ethnic backgrounds.
The so-called “blending of the races” — the bringing together of Hispanic and indigenous peoples — was only the beginning of Chile’s ethnic development. Over the years, many more ethnic groups have come to Chile; many foreign immigrants have helped colonize the country, including Germans, Italians, British, Greeks, Yugoslavs, Palestinians, and Asians.
The country’s official language is Spanish, although various indigenous groups in both the North and the South still use their traditional languages. Eighty percent of the people are practicing Roman Catholics.
In today’s globalized and highly competitive world economy, Chile has achieved an exceptional position in Latin America.
Chile has Free Trade Agreements with Mexico, Canada, the European Union, South Korea, the United States and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA); bilateral trade agreements with MERCOSUR (formed by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), and with Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Central America; a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, signed in November 2005; and a partial agreement signed with India. In addition, negotiations have been concluded with Japan, Peru, and the P4 nations (Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, and Borneo).
Efficient transportation and communications services, and a world-class seaport, airport and logistical infrastructure – all mainstays of the country’s export-driven development strategy — are crucial to bridge the geographical distance that separates Chile from other business centers around the world.
Beyond economic figures and statistics, it is important to highlight the efforts exerted by both the public and the private sector to build an economy based on a responsible attitude toward work, realistic goals and products of exceptional quality and reliability.
Culture and Fine Arts
Many Chileans, both men and women, have created works of art that have achieved recognition well beyond the nation's boundaries. Chile boasts two Nobel Prize poets: Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971). Other great Chilean poets include Vicente Huidobro, Juvencio Valle, Nicanor Parra, Gonzalo Rojas and Raul Zurita — all with significant works that continue Chile’s poetic tradition.
Other distinguished representatives of culture and fine arts are found in the world of music, plastic arts, cinema and literature. Some of the most notable include painters Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antunez and Claudio Bravo; pianist Claudio Arrau; film-maker Raul Ruiz; folk singer-songwriter Violeta Parra; and writers Isabel Allende and Antonio Skarmeta.