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Chile: Overview Essay

697 words - 3 pages

Occupying the narrow strip of land between the Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Chile covers more than half the western South American coastline, bordering also on Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. The generally temperate climate ranges from dry and hot in the northern desert to cool and damp in the south and subantarctic in the Antarctic region to which Chile lays claim. The national language is Spanish, although a few indigenous languages and dialects still remain. Fully 95% of the population of about 16.4 million is of European or mestizo descent; the remainder are indigenous peoples and other groups. Some 89% of the population profess the Roman Catholic faith, with Protestants and ...view middle of the document...

Limited by the Chilean Constitution to one term, Bachelet left office in March 2010 and was succeeded by Sebastian Piñera of the center-right National Renovation (Renovacion Nacional--RN), who defeated former president Eduardo Frei in a January 17 runoff election. Piñera, a wealthy businessman, is Chile's first democratically elected conservative leader in more than 50 years.

Economy

The world's largest producer and exporter of copper, Chile derives much of its foreign capital from the sale of that mineral, and its economy is very dependent on world copper prices—even a tiny adjustment in the price of copper translates into millions of dollars in gained or lost revenue for Chile. The economy is diverse, however. A long, fertile valley between the Andes and the low coastal mountains supports a rich agricultural sector, where Chile's world-renowned table wines are produced, and manufacturing is also an important industry. The economy gathered steam in earnest during the early 1990s, when Chile enjoyed one of South America's highest growth rates and an estimated 1 million people climbed above the United Nations poverty level. In 1998, tight...

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