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Republic of Chile
República de Chile

Chile
Flag of Chile
Coat of arms of Chile
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Trabajadores del mundo, uníos!"
("'Workers of the world, unite!")
Anthem: National Anthem of Chile
Chile orthographic
Chile shown in dark green, with territorial claims shown in light green
Capital Santiago
Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups (2014)

92% European or Mestizo

8% Amerindian or Asian
Demonym Chilean
Government Democratic socialist presidential republic
Guillermo Teillier
Legislature Congress
none
Chamber of Deputies
Establishment
18 September 1810
• Declared
12 February 1818
• Current Constitution
15 May 1977
Area
• Total
756,096 km2 (291,930 sq mi) (38th)
• Water (%)
1.07
Population
• 2014 estimate
20,470,000 (32nd)
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
• Total
$510 billion (37th)
• Per capita
$24,194 (52nd)
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
• Total
$305 billion (37th)
• Per capita
$14,899 (49th)
Gini (2014) 23.0
low
HDI (2014) 0.828
very high · 41st
Currency Peso ($) (CLP)
Time zone CLT (UTC-3)
Date format ddd.mmm.yyy
Drives on the right
Calling code +56
Internet TLD .cl

The Republic of Chile (Spanish: República de Chile) more commonly known as Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is boarded eastwards by the Argentine Confederate Union, and in the north by Peru and Bolivia. Its total area is 756,096 km2, and its population is approximately 20,470,000 people.

The arid Atacama Desert in Chile's north contains great mineral wealth, principally copper, and accounts for a large amount of Chile's strong economy. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in 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.

Spain conquered and colonised Chile in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule in northern and central Chile, but failing to conquer the independent Mapuche that inhabited south-central Chile. After declaring its independence from Spain in 1818, Chile emerged in the 1830s as a relatively stable authoritarian republic. In the 19th century, Chile saw significant economic and territorial growth, ending Mapuche resistance in the 1880s and gaining its current northern territory in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) after defeating Peru and Bolivia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the country experienced severe left-right political polarization and turmoil. This development culminated with a partially successful coup d'état led by Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende's left-wing government, leading to the Chilean Civil War, which lasted from 1973 to 1977. In the end, the leftists won, and modified the constitution to include democratic socialism into the constitution and simplify the government, which was approved in a plebiscite in 1978. Since then, socialists have remained in power in Chile, though not without significant opposition.

Today, Chile is considered to be a stable and prosperous nation, having maintained itself as a democratic socialist state operating under a mixed market socialist framework. It has remarkably low economic inequality and high development compared to the rest of the continent, and leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, income per capita, state of peace, and low perception of corruption. Chile's three major enemies are the Argentine Confederate Union, the United Confederate Union of Colombia, and the Mexican Social Republic, which the Chilean government has declared to be fascist and reactionary regimes. In relations with Argentina and Colombia, each country has accused the other of running anti-government guerrilla movements within their territory. Chile is a full member of the International Order of Socialist States.

History

For earlier history, see History of Chile on Wikipedia.

Presidency of Allende and Civil War

Salvador Allende, a member of the Socialist Party of Chile, was elected with a plurality in the 1970 Chilean presidential election, with the support of the "Popular Unity" coalition (which included the Communists, Radicals, Social Democrats, dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement, and the Independent Popular Action). Together with left-leaning Christians, he moved to advance workers' interests, reform the judicial system (using the term "socialist legality"), nationalize banks, and strengthen popular militias. Started under former President Frei, the Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of Chile's major copper mines in the form of a constitutional amendment, which was passed unanimously in Congress. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the Allende administration's first year. However, Chile began to run into economic problems by 1972, due to capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits in response to Allende's socialist program. Production fell, and unemployment and public discontent rose. Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, to increase consumer spending and redistribute income downward. Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment.

In the United States, the Richard Nixon administration organized and inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to destabilize Allende’s government. In addition, US financial pressure restricted international economic credit to Chile. Opposition media, politicians, business guilds and other organizations helped to accelerate a campaign of domestic political and economical destabilization, some of which was backed by the United States. By early 1973, inflation was out of control. The crippled economy was further battered by prolonged and sometimes simultaneous strikes by physicians, teachers, students, truck owners, copper workers, and the small business class. By the end of 1972, Allende had begun programs to establish worker co-operatives to give the working class control over former businesses, and armed workers to help defy opposition. This was heavily opposed by the right-wing and the judiciary, culminating in a partially successful coup d'état led by the military and general Augusto Pinochet in 1973.

Allende, who was evacuated from the presidential palace by dissidents within the military shortly before the time it was bombed by the military, vowed to defy the coup d'état and organized the workers into a pro-government front, starting the Chilean Civil War, which bore many similarities to the Spanish Civil War in its left versus right nature. Allende's pro-government forces were aided by the Soviet Union and Britannia, while the rebels were backed by the United States, Colombia, and Argentina. After nearly five years of fighting, and over 300,000 people killed, the last major right-wing forces surrendered, and a new constitution codifying democratic socialism and simplifying the government was introduced. Some right-wing guerrillas continued to operate, supported by the United States, Argentina, and Colombia.

The rest of the 1970s constituted rebuilding from the civil war. With most of the upper class and business owners having fled the country during or shortly after the war, nationalization and establishment of workplace democracy and control of industries went smoothly. A socialist economy within a mixed market was established, along with full public control over major industries including mining, water, electricity, and others. Pinochet had committed suicide shortly before the end of the war in 1977, but other coup leaders were imprisoned after famous trials where the government brought in witnesses telling stories about human rights abuses under areas that had been under military control during the war. Allende was re-elected in the first presidential election since 1970 in 1978 with 60% of the vote.

Contemporary Era

Allende declined to run for another term in office in 1984, and Carlos Altamirano was elected president with approximately 45% of the vote. He was reelected in 1990 with approximately 50% of the vote. Chile joined the International Order of Socialist States as a founding member in 1992. In 1996, Carlos Lorca was elected president with approximately 50% of the vote, and again in 2002 with 55% of the vote. In 2008, Guillermo Teillier was elected president with 40% of the vote, with the broad left coalition having split into a pro-market and pro-planning branch, Teillier supporting decentralized planning. Since then, he has made reforms to transition from market socialism to decentralized planning, sometimes compared to syndicalism, by local people and workers.

Government and Politics

Chile is a representative democratic presidential republic, where the President, elected every six years under the first past the post voting system (though for the 2020 system, it is likely that it will be changed to instant runoff voting), is head of both state and government. The unicameral parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies, operates under the mixed member proportional system, where districts elect a single deputy by first past the post, making up half of the chamber, while the other half is made up of seats that make the result proportional according to votes for parties. This allows a multi-party political system. The main political parties are the Communist Party of Chile, the Socialist Party of Chile (which together normally make up a broad left-wing coalition that receives approximately half of popular support in most elections), the Christian Democrats of Chile (a distributist, moderate leftist party), and the Democratic Alliance of Chile, a centre-right party that comprises almost all opposition to socialism in the country. A judiciary also exists, independent of the executive and legislature, consisting of district courts, courts of appeals, and a Supreme Court.

Foreign Relations

Chile, a member of the League of Nations, maintains its strongest relations with other socialist countries, typically within the framework of the International Order of Socialist States. It tends to have particularly warm relations with other leftist Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia. On the other hand, it is hostile towards Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia, which it has declared to be "fascist and reactionary regimes," and allegedly aids leftist anti-government groups in those countries, particularly the Free Rebel Zapatista Municipalities, in which Chile is one of the few nations to have recognized its control over an independent state of Chiapas. Chile is generally neutral in affairs not relating to socialist movements.

Military

The Armed Forces of Chile operate under the doctrine of civilian control of the military. Following the attempted coup d'état, traditional ranks were eliminated in favor of a "socialist-oriented" system, where command is more decentralized in order to discourage future coups. The military is split into the branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. There is no conscription, but service is encouraged through various economic benefits due to hostile neighboring states. There are approximately 130,000 active personnel.

Economy

Chile operates under a market socialist economy, with significant elements of both centralized and decentralized planning. In this system, economic entities are collectively controlled by their workers under the system of workers' self-management, but work and compete within the context of a regulated market economy, or social democracy. "Profits" accrued to the worker cooperatives (the replacement for corporations) are used to compensate workers, fund the government, and benefit the people through a social dividend. During and after the Chilean Civil War, many business owners fled the country, leading the government to give complete worker control over previous corporations to fill the void. This had been started before the attempted coup d'état in order to resist opposition from business owners and consolidate support for the government among the working class. In addition to this market socialist framework, major utilities and industries are nationalized and socially controlled via worker councils, the difference from other industries being the level of state influence, and that these publicly owned industries operate under planning rather than a market. One of the tenets of Chile's economy is that workplaces must be democratically controlled, and that people must receive the full product of their labour, as required by the Constitution.

The economy is ranked as a high-income economy with one of the lowest levels of economic inequality in the world, and the lowest in the continent. It leads Latin America in low perception of corruption, as well as per capita income, especially when measured by median income due to policies requiring equal compensation (significant income differences are mainly due to pay differentials introduced to increase fillings of underworked jobs) for equal amounts of labour. The national currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso, which is centrally managed by the Bank of Chile, the only legal bank in Chile, created by the consolidation of previous banks before and during the Civil War. To increase foreign investment, Chile allows some private ownership in "special economic zones", but still requires compensation to workers for the value of their labour. Chile is in general ranked as having low economic freedom, but some organizations as well as the government have contested this, saying that major industries are "human rights" that cannot be used under a market system, and that when working with others in the form of a cooperative, the economy is quite free. The government has also stated that capitalist economies are akin to slavery and that "that is never worth 'economic freedom'."

Demographics

Religion

Culture

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