Chile Society and Economy

By | December 1, 2021

Population, society and rights

Most of the Chilean population has remote European roots: both the Spanish ones of the colonial era, and those of various parts of Europe dating back to the great migrations of the 19th and 20th centuries, including a large and very influential community of German origin. During the second half of the 19th century, the number of Eastern Jews, Christian-Syrians and Palestinians who arrived in Chile fleeing the Ottoman Empire was exceptional. The Palestinian community has grown following the Arab-Israeli conflicts and is today the largest colony in Chile outside the Arab world.

The original native population, on the other hand, is concentrated mostly in the south of the country and corresponds to about 5% of Chileans: its largest ethnic group is made up of the Mapuche. Belonging to a very vulnerable section of the population and located at the lowest level of the social pyramid, in recent years the Mapuche have begun to wage a fierce battle to claim their rights on the land. The struggle has taken on such harsh connotations that some Mapuche are accused of violence and subjected to the anti-terrorism law. Recently, various Mapuche leaders announced that they want to invoke the right to self-determination of the peoples to become independent from Santiago.

Characteristic of the Chilean population is its concentration in the central belt of the country, corresponding to the territorial nucleus where the Chilean state was first consolidated and to which the southern territories populated by the Mapuche and the northern ones subtracted from Bolivia were added in the second half of the 19th century. Peru in the Pacific War (1879-83).

Chilean society is still characterized by marked inequalities, typical of the Latin American area, but economic growth and the policies implemented by the government have mitigated their gravity. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line has drastically reduced and stood at around 14%. In this socio-economic revival, education also plays a leading role: the country enjoys one of the highest levels of education in the entire Latin subcontinent, although it is precisely the dissatisfaction with the government’s choices in terms of school that has aroused, and still arouse widespread protests in the streets. For Chile culture and traditions, please check

Chile therefore ranks at the top of the rankings of Latin American countries in almost every field and is increasingly close to the social standards of Western countries: this is demonstrated by the position it occupies in the ranking of the human development index (it is in 41st place out of 187 villages). Finally, civil and political rights are respected, although the Constitution is still the one launched by the dictatorship in 1981: even the latest forms of authoritarianism are being eliminated with frequent amendments.

Economy, energy and environment

The Chilean economy, historically dependent on the export of copper, of which Chile is the first producer in the world, has grown in the last twenty years at a faster rate than any other Latin American country, coming out mostly unscathed from the economic crises that have occurred in the last years. At the base of this success there have been numerous factors, both local and international. Among the local ones stand out the legitimacy of governments, the national consensus for a policy of fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability and the effects of a liberal economic model that makes the Chilean one of the most open economies in the world, based on foreign trade and agreements. of free trade with major international partners, especially the USAand China. In 2012, Santiago signed an association agreement with Beijing to encourage the growth of trade and investments; at the same time, alongside the United States, it devotes considerable efforts to support the creation of the TPP.

However, between 2013 and 2014, there was a slowdown in GDP growth, which went from 4% to 2% due to the mistrust triggered by a succession of internal political scandals and by the socio-economic choices of the Bachelet government, which, with the aim of reducing poverty, it has decided to raise taxes to companies and then redistribute revenues, with projects in the completion phase, to the infrastructure, health and education sectors. However, projections suggest that Chile will rapidly return to growth with rates of 3-4% in the medium term.

Dependence on copper remains significant and its high prices have recently contributed significantly to growth, but both the production system and the structure of exports have strengthened and partially differentiated over time.

In terms of energy, Chile shows a potentially more vulnerable profile. The increase in internal demand for energy is not matched by an equal valorisation of the sources, of which Chile is poorly supplied. This has resulted in a strong dependence on imports of oil and natural gas. In this regard, chronic tensions with Bolivia and Argentina’s poor reliability led Chile to focus on the maximum diversification of suppliers. The use of renewable sources has also increased its importance in government policies, especially that of Bachelet: the declared goal is to bring energy consumption from renewable sources to 45% by 2025. At present, however, the energy produced from renewables is equal to 5.8%. Finally, on the environmental level the level of pollution recorded in Chile does not differ from the regional averages, even if it touches worrying peaks in the capital. Protests and controversies are caused above all by the intensive exploitation of natural resources, sometimes causing serious accidents in the mines, such as the one that occurred in San José in August 2010, and the rapid process of deforestation in some areas.

Chile Society