Chile Population and History

By | December 2, 2021


In the last three decades the Chilean population has more than doubled (14,824,000 residents In 1998) and the population growth is expected to be rapid also in the next few years, so much so that economic growth cannot keep up with it. Furthermore, the tendency to reside in urban areas and in particular in the Central Valley also seems to be accentuated, and the urban population has reached 84 % of the total. The conurbation headed by Santiago hosts 4.6 million residents, that is, more than 30 % of the entire population; the coastal conurbation Valparaíso-Viña del Mar is home to over 600. 000 residents, while the other important metropolitan area, Concepción-Los Ángeles-Chillán-Talcahuano, located south of that of Santiago, between the Central Valley and the Pacific coast, includes about one million people. In the central valley between Santiago and Concepción there are several other medium-sized urban centers, which increase the concentration in this restricted area of ​​the country, along the main communication axis, rail and road. For Chile 2011, please check


Returning to democracy in December 1989, Chile has in fact continued to live under the protection of the military; the Constitution commissioned by General A. Pinochet in 1980, in addition to requiring a qualified majority of two thirds of parliamentarians to be modified, also provided for the presence of nine non-elected senators. These, appointed in 1989 by the military and siding with the right, played a decisive role in the 1990s in preventing the approval of any significant reform. Proof that a ‘protected’ democracy existed in Chile came in March 1998, when Pinochet, before assuming, as former President of the Republic, a seat as a senator for life, he finally left the leadership of the armed forces, receiving from the military top the appointment as ‘commander in chief meritorious’ and the assurance of their absolute ‘present and future’ loyalty.

Lacking the majority necessary to change the Constitution, the center-left administration headed by the Christian Democrat P. Aylwin had to make continuous compromises with the right-wing opposition and was able to approve only some of the proposed reforms (among other things, the presidential mandate, non-renewable, was elevated to six years in February 1994 and local government-appointed officials were replaced with elected representatives). In March 1991 was published a report of the Comisión Nacional por la Verdad y la Reconciliación, charged with shedding light on major human rights violations committed by the military in the period 1973 – 90; although devoid of legal consequences, the work of the commission was bitterly contested by Pinochet as damaging the prestige of the armed forces and contrary to the amnesty law he approved in 1978. In terms of economic policy, the Aylwin administration maintained the liberal approach adopted by the military after their coming to power. Thanks also to the overall good performance of the economy (despite the presence of serious inequalities in the distribution of wealth, with over 30 % of the population forced to live in conditions of extreme hardship), the center-left coalition (Concertación de los Partidos por Democracia, CPD) was confirmed in power by the December 1993 elections. In the presidential elections, the Christian Democrat E. Frei won in fact with 58 % of the votes on A. Alessandri, candidate of the right (coalitioned in the Unión para el Progreso de Chile), who obtained 24 % of the votes. In the legislatures, the CPD again missed the objective of winning two-thirds of the seats, necessary to modify the Constitution without having to compromise with the opposition, and obtained 70 deputies (out of 120) and 21 elected senators (out of 38). Taking office in March 1994, Frei revived some of the reform laws that his predecessor had failed to pass. Despite an agreement signed with Renovación Nacional (RN), the main opposition party, in April 1996 the Senate rejected a government bill to eliminate its non-elective seats and blocked a reform package that also included the introduction of a proportional electoral law and a revision of the 1978 amnesty law. The Chilean political balance remained substantially unchanged after the legislative elections of December 1997. On the international level, free trade agreements concluded with Colombia and Ecuador in 1993, Chile re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in April 1995 and in October 1996 became part of MERCOSUR. The 16October 1998 Pinochet was arrested in London following an extradition request from the Spanish judiciary which accused him of serious crimes committed against Spanish citizens during the years of the dictatorship. In a climate of strong mobilization in Chile and the growing attention of international public opinion, in March-April 1999 the English authorities declared the requests of the Spanish judges legitimate.

Chile Population