Chile: Background & Geography

Introduction Chile
Background:
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, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth 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.
Geography Chile
Location:
Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Geographic coordinates:
30 00 S, 71 00 W
Map references:
South America
Area:
total: 756,950 sq km
land: 748,800 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez
water: 8,150 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 6,171 km
border countries: Argentina 5,150 km, Bolivia 861 km, Peru 160 km
Coastline:
6,435 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200/350 NM
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate:
temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
Terrain:
low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m
Natural resources:
copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 2.65%
permanent crops: 0.42%
other: 96.93% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
18,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis
Environment - current issues:
widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage
Environment - international agreements:
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:
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

See Also: