Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations. It has been relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that have blighted the continent.
The exception was the 17-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet, whose 1973 coup was one of the bloodiest in 20th-century Latin America and whose dictatorship left more than 3,000 people dead and missing.
Chile’s unusual, ribbon-like shape – 4,300 km long and on average 175 km wide – has given it a hugely varied climate.
This ranges from the world’s driest desert – the Atacama – in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a snow-prone Alpine climate in the south, with glaciers, fjords and lakes.
Chile is a multi-ethnic society, including people of European and Indian ancestry.
- The Republic of Chile
- Capital : Santiago
- Population 17.4 million
- Area 756,096 sq km (291,930 sq miles)
- Major language Spanish
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 76 years (men), 82 years (women)
- Currency Chilean peso