Chile Children’s Encyclopedia (2005)

By | December 14, 2021

The longest country in the world

Almost all climates are represented in Chile, stretching from the Tropic to Antarctica to form a thin strip at the foot of the Andes. Rich in sea, mountains and minerals, very poor in arable land, it is an excellent example of a country with many resources, but held back by a colonial past that forces it to produce raw materials for the most advanced economies. Chile has long been looking for its own path to development, amidst cruel social conflicts and harsh international pressures: as in many other cases, international economic and political cooperation could open that path. For Chile 2012, please check

The variegated Chilean ribbon

Chile is a strip of land in South America, more than 4,000 km long between 17 ° and 56 ° south and squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, which form the border with Bolivia and Argentina. The variety of its climates and landscapes is therefore remarkable.

The Andes dominate the whole country, with many peaks above 6,000m (the highest is Aconcagua, 6,959m) and various active volcanoes (such as Láscar, 6,641m); the flat strip along the sea almost never reaches 200 km in width. Some oceanic islands are part of the Chilean territory, including Easter Island, about 2,500 km from the coast. Chile then claims a part of Antarctica, where it is present with seven scientific bases.

Based on the climate, the country can be divided into an arid region in the north (corresponding to the Tropic of Capricorn is the Atacama desert, the driest in the world); a central area with a Mediterranean climate and winter rainfall; the southern regions of Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, not far from Antarctica, rich in forests but also in glaciers.

‘Discovered’ by Magellan in 1520, Chile was inhabited by important civilizations, such as that of the Incas, who formed a vast empire between the 13th and 16th centuries. Those populations were almost exterminated when the Spanish colonists arrived (colonialism): only 10% of the Chilean population descends from the Amerindians and lives mainly in the cold southern regions. The rest is formed by the descendants of Europeans, immigrants especially in the last two centuries, and their crossings, and live instead in the central regions. Here are the main cities: Santiago, the administrative capital, with over six million residents in the metropolitan area, that is 40% of the entire Chilean population; and then others much less populous, such as Valparaiso, the legislative capital, and Viña del Mar.

A colonial economy

Chile has a developed agriculture, which produces a lot for export (fruit, vegetables, wine); breeding is important, especially with the characteristic production of fine wool of llamas and alpacas, indigenous animals of the Andes. But the country’s real natural riches are minerals – especially copper, of which it is the world’s largest producer, and then precious metals, iron, sulfur, nitrates and various others – and fishing. Much of the industry deals with the primary processing of minerals, while the manufactured goods are imported: Chile is an example of a state with good natural and human resources and good production potential, which however depends on the political and economic conditions of the international and non-international market. manages to grow as it could. Even the intense activity of the port of Valparaiso, among the first in Latin America,

More than a million tourists visit Chile every year: its coasts (very indented and fronted by hundreds of islands in the southern part) have many beaches, the mountains are equipped with ski resorts, the natural heritage is rich and varied (18 % of the territory is protected).

Chile Children's Encyclopedia (2005)