Chile History Summary (2010)

By | December 1, 2021

Chile State of South America. It borders to the North with Peru, to the East with Bolivia and Argentina; to the South and to the West it is bathed by the Pacific Ocean. The territory stretches for approximately 4200 km in latitude and does not exceed 400 km in longitude, giving an extremely developed perimeter with respect to the enclosed surface, and generating a significant amount of problems (communications, defense). The country’s economy has been characterized by colonial-type development (export of minerals: copper and nitrates) since the second half of the 20th century. For Chile history, please check

The pre-Columbian era. In pre-Columbian times, the population of Chile probably did not exceed 250,000 units. In the arid northern region, chango and atacameños populations lived along the coast, and diaguitas in the interior; in the central area, araukani (mapuche, huilliche, picunche), farmers and ranchers, who made up the most complex and technologically advanced societies; further to the South, groups of Fuegian fishermen and gatherers (alacalùf, chono, yamana), on the contrary, used an elementary technology and had very simple social structures.

The conquest, colonization, independence. Initiated by Spain in 1535, the conquest of Chile was made difficult by the resistance of the Araucan Indians, which was renewed in particular in the 19th century. Until then the control of the Spaniards was unable to extend to the South of the Bío-Bío River, but in the region they occupied, the merger with the local Amerindian population resulted in a relatively homogeneous mass of mestizos. The first years after independence (proclaimed February 12, 1818 by the supreme director B. O’Higgins, who maintained the direction of the state until 1823) saw on the one hand the continuation of the war against Spain until its definitive expulsion from South America (1826), on the other hand conflicts within the oligarchy dominant. Moreover, the country’s economy remained tied to foreign interests and substantially dependent. After repeated overthrow of governments and the adoption of two successive constitutions (in 1823 and 1828), the crisis was resolved with the victory of the conservatives (1830) and the launch of a Constitution (1833) destined to last for almost a century. Conservative hegemony lasted until 1861, followed in the second half of the century by a rise of liberal groups. The expansion of Chilean mining interests to the North led to the Pacific War (1879-84), which ended with the victory of Chile and the occupation of the disputed area. By the end of the nineteenth century, completing the subjugation of the Araucans, the government of Santiago was able to establish its control over the southernmost regions of the country, which thus acquired its current dimensions. A conflict that arose between the President of the Republic JM Balmaceda (1886-91) and the Parliament provoked a brief civil war in 1891, which ended with the defeat and suicide of Balmaceda and with the launch of a constitutional reform.

Chile in the early part of the twentieth century. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. new political and social forces were formed, such as the Radical Party and the Socialist Party, founded in 1912 and becoming a Communist in 1922. The serious economic difficulties following the end of the First World War sharpened the conflicts between these forces and the conservatives, determining in the 1920s and Thirties, a notable political instability. In 1925, after an initial assumption of power by the military, some reforms and a new presidential constitution were passed (which remained in force until 1973): it established the election by universal suffrage of the president and of the bicameral Congress; but the exclusion of women (until 1949) and the illiterate (until 1970) still limited the electoral body. In the following years the situation remained very tense and there were successive overthrow of governments, repeated military interventions, coup attempts, strikes and severely repressed popular uprisings, while new parties were born (including a new Socialist Party in 1933). In 1938, the electoral victory of the Frente popular, a left-wing coalition led by the Radical Party, inaugurated a phase that continued until 1952. The years of the Second World War saw a resumption of economic growth, mainly due to the considerable increase in exports. On the social level, the inability of radical-led governments to carry out effective reforms led to a crisis of the Frente popular and subsequent changes in ministerial alliances, up to the sharp shift to the right after the war. when in the climate of the Cold War a coalition with the conservative forces was formed (1948) and the Communist Party outlawed (until 1958). Meanwhile, ties with the United States were strengthening and their economic penetration in the country increased. The presidential elections of 1952 were won by gen. Chile Ibáñez del Campo (former dictator from 1927 to 1931); Ibáñez established good relations with Perón’s Argentina and conducted a decidedly conservative policy, severely repressing the union unrest, while the economic situation suffered a significant deterioration. The elections of 1958 brought back to the presidency an exponent of the traditional right, the liberal J. Alessandri Rodriguez, but in the 1960s this underwent a progressive downsizing to the advantage of the left and the new Christian Democratic Partido (PDC, founded in 1957), who established himself at the center of the political spectrum, even at the expense of the radicals. In 1964 thePDC leader E. Frei Montalva, elected president of the Republic, initiated a policy of reform.

Chile History Summary (2010)