Chile is located on the west coast of Southern America. It is south of Peru, west of Argentina and Bolivia, and east of the Pacific Ocean. One of Chile’s most dominant physical features is the Andes Mountain Range that takes up almost the entire country. There are also many active volcanoes and earthquakes because Chile is found along a fault line. Chile is also home to the world’s most arid desert: the Atacama. This desert can support nearly no life, and has little to no rain. The Andes Mountains have a great impact on Chile because a lot of people depend on the resources they bring. Some of these are fresh runoff water for agricultural regions, fertile land for farming, minerals, and increase in population. Because Chile’s shape is mostly north to south, the climate of each area can vary: however, the Andes Mountains often affect the climate of surrounding areas, often causing either an abundance of rain or a shortage of it.
Before the Spanish conquered Americas in the middle of the 1500’s, the people that inhabited the land of Chile were Native Americans. While they were are similar in language and race, they did not have a central government or structure. The native people would farm, fish, and hunt to obtain food. In northern Chile, the Indians were all part of the Inca empire, while in the south they called themselves Araucanians. When the Spaniards sailed to South America in 1540, it was a Spanish leader named Pedro de Valdivia that conquered the land and founded present day Santiago. Soon, two Araucanians, Lautro and Caupolican, led a rebellion against the Spanish in an attempt to reclaim their land. They almost succeeded, but the Spanish were able to fight them off and regain control.
Napoleon took control of Spain in 1808, deposing their king: Ferdinand VII. He later made his brother, Joseph, the new king. The people of Chile tried to achieve independence, but were stopped from doing so by Peru, which was loyal to Spain. While this happened, Napoleon stepped down as ruler and the former king was restored. He then created a repressive government that limited the people’s freedom. On February 12, 1817, a man named Jose Del San Martin lead an army that defeated the royalists, finally achieving Chile’s freedom.
For the first few years, Chile suffered from instability in its government. In 1833 a new constitution for the country was written that led to a relatively long period of political stability. However, Chile saw a large recession when their copper, wheat, and silver exports dropped. War broke out when a border dispute rose between Chile and its neighboring country Bolivia. Chile had agreed to let Bolivia take the land as long as they did not increase their tax on Chilean companies that were operating there. The war began as Bolivia raised its tax anyway. Peru sided with Bolivia. Chile overtook Peru’s capital, and its greatest warship: the Hudascar. Chile gained territory from both countries when the war with Peru ended in 1883, and with Bolivia the next year.
When a dispute between the President and Congress began not long after this, there was a short civil war that ended with the president’s army being defeated. This led to an increase in economic development and the country prospered. Unfortunately, in 1914 Chile’s export of nitrates collapsed due to World War 1. In attempt to fix this depression, a new constitution was written in 1925. This did not last long as the great depression came about in 1930 and government stability lowered. Many government changes were made, and finally stability was restored when former president, Arturo Alessandri, came into power again in 1932.
After many changes in government, Chile is now quickly growing in population, economic development, and poverty is declining rapidly. Chile has become a stable democracy with Sebastián Piñera as the president. Chile joined the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) in 2010, and is likely to see a prosperous future.
The average birth rate of Chile is 13.4 births per 1,000 population. This means that on average, 13 babies are born to a population of 1,000. The average fertility rate is 1.79 children born per woman. Chile is ranked number 141 on the list of highest birth rates in all of the countries in the world. This is important because birth rate is often largely used to measure population growth of a country.
Chile’s average death rate is 6.3 deaths per population of 1,000. This plus the birth rate and net migration rate gives the country’s average population growth rate of 0.75%. Chile is ranked as number 150 on the list of highest death rates. As is seen on the population pyramid, Chile is home to a stable growth and is quickly developing into a structured country.
Literacy rate, by definition, is the measurement of how many people ages 15 and older in a country are capable of reading and writing. Chile’s literacy rate is 96.9% as of 2015. Males have a higher average literacy rate at 97% and females with 96.7%. Literacy rate is important because it shows how well educated a country is.
Chile has a total infant mortality rate of 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is the average of the mortality rate of male and female. Males have a lower mortality rate of 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births while females have an average of only 6. The infant mortality rate is often used to determine the overall health of a country. In comparison to the other countries of the world, Chile is estimated to be ranked number 163.
The life expectancy of Chile is about 79.1 years total. Females have longer life expectancies than males: females living to about 82.2 years and males only reaching 76. When countries are ranked from highest to lowest life expectancy, Chile is found in ranking number 51. This reflects very good healthcare in a country and a higher life expectancy is desirable.
Two common tribes found in Chile are the Mapuche and the Aymara. The Mapuche, who were formally known as the Araucanians, have lived in southern South America for a very long time. Now, most of them live in the Central Valley of Chile, south of the Biobío river. The Mapuche are but one of the few tribes who have practiced the same customs throughout the years. The Mapuche are such a large part of Chilean culture because they have overcome many obstacles, making them very resilient. At the beginning of the twenty-first century their population reached over 1,400,000, making their tribe the largest in all of Chile. The Mapuche make up 84% of the entire indigenous population in the country. The tribe holds a celebration called the “Ñguillatun, the fertility and agricultural festival that is usually held for a few days.” describes Laura Ann Moylan. At the festival they pray for luck and good fortune. Much like a lot of other tribes, the Mapuche worship animals and ancestors. Their spiritual leaders are called the Machi, their job is to get rid of evil witches, dangerous ghosts, and to heal people.
The Aymara is another tribe that are indigenous to Chile, even though there are many that live in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. In the 15th century, the Aymara tribe lived in peace before they were conquered by the Incas. Years after this, the Spanish came to South America and took control of their tribe. Because of these changes, the Aymara have seen a lot of acculturation, and their culture has changed drastically over the years. When they were conquered by the Incas, their food variety, art styles, and religious cults changed. When the Spaniards came the Aymara adopted new domestic animals and plants, iron tools, and a new way to farm. The Aymara claimed to have of population of over three million in the 21 century, though only a fraction of them live in Chile. They are mainly an agricultural tribe, though they tend to live in harsh climates and places with poor soil. Some staple crops they grow are corn, potatoes, wheat, quinoa, barley, and beans. The Aymara also own herds of alpacas and llamas which are able to feed on the dry grass. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica explain that “Today the Aymara maintain their beliefs in a multi-spirit world, have many categories of magicians, diviners, medicine men, and witches, but are Christian in their beliefs about the afterworld.”
The two tribes have a lot in common, both the Mapuche and the Aymara live in Chile and other places in Southern America. I.W.G.I.A. states that “Chile is the only country In Latin America, that does not recognize the indigenous peoples in its constitution.” This shows that both tribes have challenges that they have to overcome. I.W.G.I.A. also gives emphasis to the problem of poverty in these tribes. They claim that “30.8% of the indigenous population live in poverty, while for the non-indigenous population that figure is 19.9%.” Both the Mapuche and Aymara have had issues with other groups trying to conquer them, including the Incas, Spaniards, and Chileans. Both tribes have lost a lot of land and are struggling to regain their land. One difference between the two tribes is their religion. The Mapuche mainly believe in worship of animals and ancestors, and have the Machi as their spiritual leaders. The Aymara, in contrast, believe in the multi-spirit world, and have witches, medicine men, diviners, and magicians.
The majority of Chileans speak a variant of Spanish called Chilean Spanish. This is different from the traditional language because they add or remove syllables from certain words and have a lot of slang terms unknown to other Spanish speaking countries. Spanish came to Chile when it was taken over by the Spaniards, and the language was adopted. Some native languages that are spoken are Mapudungun– which is spoken by a small portion of the Mapuche tribe, Quechua, Rapa Nui, Huilliche, Central Aymará, and Kawésqar. Even though Spanish is the most common language spoken, there are other foreign languages that are widely known as well. Worldatlas.com explains that “German was once spoken by a significant percentage of the Chilean population, and about 150,000 to 200,000 Chileans are of some degree of German descent. However, since World War II ended, the population of German-speaking Chileans has drastically fallen.” English is another language that is spoken more by people in the upper classes, and there are also British schools that are run in the country.
Chile has many holidays and traditions. One of their older traditions is called Valdivian Week, and has been celebrated ever since February 6, 1552. This day is held in Southern Chile in remembrance of the founding of the city Valdivia. Dozens of vessels are floated down the rivers, and a Queen of all rivers is crowned on the best looking ship. “A fireworks display closes the festival, while along the riverbank people enjoy street performances, food and beer.” illustrates thisischile.cl. Another holiday that is celebrated by the indigenous people is the Indigenous New Year on June 24. This is right after the harvest has ended, and the people give thanks to mother nature. Chileans celebrate wine with the Grape Harvest Festival in the last weeks of March. They begin with a religious ceremony blessing a batch of pulped grapes. After that, the parade begins and the competitions between grape stomping teams start. Some other holidays and traditions are the Tapati Party on Easter Island, Carnavalón, Fiesta de San Pedro, Fiesta de la Tirana, Winter Carnivals, Fiestas Patrias, Christmas, and New Year.
While the national sport of Chile is rodeo, football and tennis may be considered more popular. “Rodeo, the national sport, began to be practiced in the colonial era and is now the number one pastime for the central zone, particularly in rural areas” claims thisischile.cl. Rodeo became the national sport in 1962. In Chilean rodeos, horse-riding cowboys called huasos will be in a ring called a medialuna. A team of two of these cowboys will try to detain a bull as quickly as they can after riding in laps around the ring. Chile, like the vast majority of the world, has a large amount of football fans. Some of the greatest soccer players from Chile are Elias Figueroa, Iván Zamorano, and Marcelo Salas.
About 70% of the Chilean population over the age of 14 claim to be part of the Roman Catholic church, making it the most widely practiced religion in the country. Another 15% identified as Evangelical, while 8.3% do not practice any religion at all. Jehovah’s Witnesses are 1% of the population and other Christian religions are another 1%. The remaining 4.6% practice other religions. Studycountry.com explains that Roman Catholicism “was introduced in Chile by Franciscan and Dominican priests who accompanied colonialists from Spain back in the 16th century. The first parish was built in 1547 and a diocese in 1561. By 1650, most of the locals in the central and northern areas of the country had been converted to Catholicism.
Chile has a Republic government, meaning that they believe in sovereignty of the people. Their full government name is the Republic of Chile. On the Index of Economic freedom Chile scores a 75.2 out of 100 points, making it number 18 in the whole world. The country’s overall risk rating is low. Just like America, Chile has an Executive branch, a Legislative branch, and a Judicial branch. For the Executive branch, the president is both Chief of State and Head of Government. The current president is named Sebastián Piñera Echenique. Each president serves for the country for 4 years before the next election, which is a two-round system determined by the majority vote.