About Chile

Here’s some quick facts about Chile, readily available on Wikipedia (my primary source) but thought it would be handy to share some highlights here.

Location and Geography:

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south.

  • The shape of Chile is a distinctive ribbon of land 4,300 kilometres (2,700 mi) long and on average 175 kilometres (109 mi) wide, 430 kilometres (265 mi) at its widest point east to west..
  • The Pacific coastline of Chile is 78,563.2 kilometres.
  • Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez,Desventuradas and Easter Island.
  • Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.
  • In the north, the Atacama Desert is the driest in the world.
  • The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

Area: 756,096 km2 or 291,930 sq miles – much smaller than Ontario which is 1,076,395 km2)

Languages: Spanish is the defacto official language.

Currency: Chilean Pesos (CLP).  $1.00 CAN = $510.890 CLP (approximately)  We’ve been keeping the math simple when converting currency and rounding down a little so that 500 pesos equals about a dollar.  For example, if something costs $19,000 pesos, we times it by 2 ($38,000) and drop a few zeroes ($38 CAN).  It’s close enough for our purposes.

TimeZone:  CLT or EAST (UTC−4 to −6) (2 hours ahead of Ottawa, Ontario)

Population: 2011 estimate: 17,248,450 comprised of the following groups:  White (59%), Mestizo (25%) and Amerindian (8%).

Major cities in order of size (2002 census):

  1. Santiago (Capital) – 5,428,590
  2. Concepcion – 848,023
  3. Valparaiso – 824,006
  4. La Serena – 296,253
  5. Antofagasto – 285,255


  • Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations and a recognized middle power.
  • It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and state of peace.
  • It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development.
  • It has a high economic inequality, as measured by the Gini index.
  • In May 2010 Chile became the first South American nation to join the OECD.
  • Chile is a founding member of both the United Nations and the Union of South American Nations.
Other interesting facts:
  • The percentage of Chileans with per capita household incomes below the poverty line—defined as twice the cost of satisfying a person’s minimal nutritional needs—fell from 45.1% in 1987 to 11.5% in 2009, according to government surveys,  However, this number is disputed by many based on the outdated method of calculation.   Using the relative yardstick favoured in many European countries, 27% of Chileans would be poor, according to Juan Carlos Feres of the ECLAC.
  • In the most recent census (2002), 70 percent of the population over age 14 identified as Roman Catholic and 15.1 percent as evangelical.  1% of the population identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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