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Chile:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians (also known as Mapuches) inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Araucanian Indians were completely subjugated. A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.
Location
Definition
Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Geographic coordinates
Definition
30 00 S, 71 00 W
Map references
Definition
South America
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 756,950 sq km
land: 748,800 sq km
water: 8,150 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 6,339 km
border countries: Argentina 5,308 km, Bolivia 860 km, Peru 171 km
Coastline
Definition
6,435 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200/350 nm
Climate
Definition
temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
Terrain
Definition
low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m
Natural resources
Definition
copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 2.62%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.95% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
19,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
922 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 12.55 cu km/yr (11%/25%/64%)
per capita: 770 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis
Environment - current issues
Definition
widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); Atacama Desert is one of world's driest regions


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