At a glance - A view from our expert author

Chile at a glance

Location West coast of southern South America
Neighbouring countries Argentina, Bolivia, Peru
Area 748,800km2 (excluding a claim to part of Antarctica)
Climate Mostly temperate (increasingly wet and cold to the south); dry tropical in the far north
Status Presidential Republic
Population 17.3 million (2011)
Life expectancy 78 years
Capital Santiago (population 6 million based on 2011 figures)
Other main towns Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena, Valparaíso, Concepción, Temuco, Valdivia, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas
Economy Free-market capitalism
GDP US$247 billion (US$300 billion at Purchasing Power Parity [PPP]), 2011
GDP growth 5%
Language Spanish
Religion 70% Roman Catholic
Currency Peso; written as $ in Chile (for up-to-date rates, go to
National airline LAN (formerly LanChile); main airport Santiago (SCL)
International telephone code +56
Time GMT -3
Electrical voltage 220V, 50Hz
Weights and measures Metric
Flag One white and one red horizontal band, blue square at hoist end of upper (white) band, five-pointed white star in centre of blue square
National anthem Puro, Chile, es tu ciel azulado (‘Chile, your sky is pure blue’) by Eusebio Lillo and Ramón Carnicer, 1827
Public holidays 1 January New Year (Año Nuevo); Good Friday (Viernes Santo), Easter Saturday (Sábado Santo) and Sunday (Pascua); 1 May Labour Day (Día del Trabajo); 21 May Navy Day (Glorias Navales); 29 June Saints Peter and Paul (San Pedro y San Pablo); 16 July Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Virgen del Carmen); 15 August Assumption of the Virgin (Asunción de la Virgen); 18 September Independence Day (Día de la Independencia); 19 September Army Day (Día del Ejercito); 15 October Colombus Day (Día de la Raza or Día del Descubrimiento de Dos Mundos); 1 November All Saints (Todos los Santos); 8 December Immaculate Conception (Inmaculada Concepción); 25 December Christmas (Navidad); 31 December New Year’s Eve (El Fin del Año)

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