Country of the World Chile

About the country Chile, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: In southwestern South America, Chile's string bean profile is conditioned almost entirely by the steep wall of the Andes Mountains dividing it from Argentina to the east. The Andes, towering to almost 23,000 ft. and permanently snowcapped, are almost never out of sight, for Chile's average width is only about 110 mi., though the country is 2,650 mi. long. Chile has several distinctly different areas. The Atacama Desert in the north, one of the world's driest, gives way to the pleasant central region of wheatfields and vineyards. Most of the people live here in the central valley between the low coast range and the Andes. Santiago and the other major cities are here. Further south the open fields yield to dense forests and a much wetter climate. In the extreme south are glaciers, fjords, and mountain lakes. Easter Island and the Juan Fernandez, or "Robinson Crusoe," islands in the Pacific are also Chilean territory.

Size: 292,256 sq. mi. (756,945 sq. km.). Chile also claims some 483,000 sq. mi. of Antarctica, a claim disputed by Great Britain.

Population: 11 million, most of them a mixture of Spanish and the Araucanian Indians who were the original inhabitants. German and English immigrants, in particular, have also made important contributions to Chile's history and economy.

Who Rules: For many years a republic with a highly politicized electorate, Chile is now ruled by a military junta, which seized power in a bloody coup on Sept. 11, 1973. Salvador Allende Gossens, the democratically elected Marxist president, was killed in the fighting.

Who REALLY Rules: The coup dramatically illustrated the real power in Chile. The military, the local elite groups of landowners and industrialists, and U.S. investors, all guided and abetted by the CIA, brought about the coup. Together they destroyed the limited gains made by Chile's peasants and workers in controlling their political and social destinies. The interests that favored and implemented the coup remain in power to this day.

General Pinochet Ugarte has banned all political parties, both left and right, and censored the press. Civil and human rights are consistently violated. Since the coup there have been 90,000 political arrests, and torture has been institutionalized. Ownership of property is the only right recognized in Chile today.

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