Capital City: Santiago
Population: 16.3 million (2012 census)
Area: 756,000 sq km
GDP per capita: $23,165 (2015 estimate)
Religion: 67% Roman Catholic, 17% Evangelical
Borders: Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
Natural Resources: Copper, Iron Ore, Precious Metals, Nitrates and Molybdenum
Chile’s boundaries are geographically well defined: to the west is the Pacific Ocean; to the east the Andes mountains; to the north is the Atacama Desert; and to the south are the icefields and glaciers of Chilean Patagonia. There are wide variations of soil and climate between these features. Overall the climate is temperate with a desert climate in the north, a Mediterranean climate in the central region and cool, damp and snow prone Alpine climate in the south, with glaciers, fjords and lakes. Chile shares frontiers with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
Chile is widely regarded as one of the most stable emerging market economies and has a record of high growth. The economy was the fastest-growing in Latin America in the 1990s. Chile was the first Latin American country to privatise state enterprises, reduce tariffs, liberalise investment and open its doors to foreign capital. This, combined with tight fiscal and monetary policies, led to record growth averaging 7.6% per annum from 1988 to 1998. Chile is now classified as a high income economy by the World Bank and hence a developed country. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD.
Chile has an abundance of natural resources. The country has the world’s largest copper reserves and is also the largest producer and exporter of the metal. Chile also accounts for 5% of the western hemisphere’s gold production of which about 40% is a by-product of copper extraction. Apart from copper, Chile has the largest share of the world’s reserves of rhenium and potassium nitrate and the third largest reserves of molybdenum. While most of Chile’s mineral resources are in the north, there are gas, coal and oil reserves in the southern Magallanes Region of significance for local consumption.