The World Factbook
by Central Intelligence Agency
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the Inca ruled northern Chile while an indigenous people, the Mapuche, inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, it did not achieve decisive victory over the Spanish until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia to win its present northern regions. In the 1880s, the Chilean central government gained control over the central and southern regions inhabited by the Mapuche. After a series of elected governments, the three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by General Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a democratically-elected president was inaugurated in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and 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.
Chile Facts, information, pictures
Situated along the southwestern coast of South America, Chile has an area of 756,950 sq km (292,260 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Chile is slightly smaller than twice the size of the state of Montana. A long string of land pressed between the Pacific and the towering Andes, Chile is 4,270 km (2,653 mi) long n–s; it is 356 km (221 mi) wide at its broadest point (just north of Antofagasta) and 64 km (40 mi) wide at its narrowest point, with an average width of 175 km (109 mi) e–w. It is bordered on the n by Peru, on the ne by Bolivia, on the e by Argentina, on the s by the Drake Passage, and on the w by the Pacific Ocean. At the far se, at the end of the Strait of Magellan (Estrecho de Magallanes), it has an opening to the Atlantic Ocean. Chile's boundary length (including coastline) is 12,606 km (7,833 mi).