Chile Travel Information

Photo A three-year-old Marxist government was overthrown in 1973 by a dictatorial military regime led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, first implemented by the PINOCHET dictatorship, led to unprecedented growth in 1991-97 and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government.

GEOGRAPHY

The northern Chilean desert contains great mineral wealth, primarily copper and nitrates. The relatively small central area dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area also is the historical center from which Chile expanded until the late 19th century, when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border.

PEOPLE

About 85% of Chile's population live in urban centers, with 40% living in greater Santiago. Most have Spanish ancestry. A small, yet influential number of Irish and English immigrants came to Chile during the colonial period. German immigration began in 1848 and lasted for 90 years; the southern provinces of Valdivia, Llanquihue, and Osorno show a strong German influence. Other significant immigrant groups are Italian, Croatian, French, and Middle Eastern. About 800,000 Native Americans, mostly of the Mapuche tribe, reside in the south-central area.

ECONOMY

After a decade of impressive growth rates, Chile experienced a moderate recession in 1999 brought on by the global economic slowdown. The economy began to recover in 2000 with 5.4% growth, but the rate of growth slowed to 3.0% in 2001 and 1.9% in 2002. Chile’s GDP is expected to grow 3%-4% in 2003.

U.S.-CHILEAN RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Chile are better now than at any other time in history. The U.S. Government applauded the rebirth of democratic practices in Chile in the late 1980s and early 1990s and sees the maintenance of a vibrant democracy and a healthy and sustainable economy as among the most important U.S. interests in Chile. In December 2000 the United States and Chile initiated negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement and completed negotiations in December 2002. The two governments consult frequently on issues of mutual concern, and dialogue takes place in five major bilateral commissions covering defense, agriculture, trade and investment, and bilateral issues.

Important: Travel to Chile may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Chile visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Chile
Capital city: Santiago
Area: 756,102 sq km
Population: 17,067,369
Ethnic groups: white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6%
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3%
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Sebastian PINERA Echenique
Head of Government: President Sebastian PINERA Echenique
GDP: 299.5 billion
GDP per captia: 17,400
Annual growth rate: 5.9%
Inflation: 3.3%
Agriculture: grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans
Major industries: copper, lithium, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles
Natural resources: copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Trade Partners - exports: China 22.8%, US 11.1%, Japan 11.1%, Brazil 5.5%, South Korea 5.5%, Netherlands 4.7%
Trade Partners - imports: US 20.1%, China 16.9%, Brazil 8.3%, Argentina 6.3%, Germany 4.2%