Thursday, May 24, 2007

Interesting Chile Facts

Cool and Interesting facts about Chile

  • Population : 16 million

  • Percentage of population under poverty line: 19% (Life expectancy is on the up, and poverty has halved in the last 15 years)

  • Unemployment rate: 8% (This statistic should be interesting to watch because of the increase of people going into higher education, but lack of jobs to support the educated students leaving the Universities. For example, they have a saying about lawyers, “you lift a stone and you find a lawyer.” There are many lawyer graduates but not enough jobs.)

  • Population growth rate: .97%

  • Adult literacy: 96.2%

  • Pisco produced annually: 50 million liters ( a tangy, bitter-sweet cocktail, which is easily the national favorite drink)

  • Produces 35% of the worlds copper. (45% of national exports)

  • Chile contains approx. 10% of the worlds active volcanoes.

Chile's Social Revolution:

Conservatism, has been a defining characteristic of the Chilean culture, but there are many changes brewing from this newly democratic country. The church is loosing ground, and after a brutal dictatorship, Chileans are celebrating with cultural rebellion.

  • Presidential race: A woman- an unmarried mother at that- Michelle Bachelet is the first woman elected to president not only in Chile, but in all South America; something that would have been unthinkable, only a decade ago.

  • Divorce: Chile was until recently one of only three countries without a divorce law. It was introduced in 2004 despite strong opposition from the church. The lack of a divorce law in the past didn't keep marriages together so much as to increase the acceptance of couples living together out of wedlock with children.

  • Gays and Lesbians are either ignored or frowned upon, but the situation is easing.

  • Children out of wedlock: Until recently, men could leave their girlfriends with their babies and take no responsibility. However, since a law in 2005, father's are required to recognize their children out of wedlock.

  • Chileans are family, and kid-oriented. Children typically live at home with their parents until they marry. If they leave their homes for Universities, there are often accommodation for the students to live in a home with a surrogate mother who cooks, cleans and takes care of them like their mother would.

A little History about the country

  • 12,500 BC: Evidence of human habitation. Most famous is the Chinchurro culture who left behind the oldest known intentionally preserved mummies. In fact they began mummifying their dead 2000 years before the Egyptians.

  • 1535-1600: Similar to North-America, Europeans, mostly Spanish settlers claimed the land as their own, bringing diseases, enslavement and death the indigenous peoples.

  • 1888: Large scale nitrate and copper mining.

  • 1900's: lots of political turmoil, including an elected president, a dictator taking over, the dictator being exiled to Argentina.

  • 1960: The strongest earthquake ever recorded took place in Southern Chile, killing about 1000 people, destroying all buildings, and resulting tsunami wreaked havoc in Hawaii, 10,000 km away and on the coast of Japan.

  • 1935-1970: Unstable political climate takes force. Democratic, but a fiercly polarized and militant society is forming. Communists, socialists and radicals form a party, but with very different goals.

  • 1970: The world's first Marxist president is democratically elected; Salvador Allende. But an even more polarized country was rising.

  • 1973 (Sept 11): Pinochet successfully overthrew the government in a brutal coup d'etat, killing the president, and hundreds of thousands leftists, or supporters were, tortured, killed and thrown into exile. Although the military government was only supposed to stay in power until the country stabilized, his rein lasted 17 years. The Caravan of Death traveled the entire length of the country killing many political opponents, while many others just disappeared.

  • 1990: In order to appear as a democratically elected president, Pinochet held an election and lost. Although Pinochet continued to extend power through other means.

  • 1998: Pinochet was arrested for human rights violations, but he never reached trial before his death last year, because of his failing mental health. To this day, Pinochet is still a very hot topic with Chileans, because some of the country continues to support his actions while others viciously despises the man.

  • 2005-now: A woman president is in power, and the democracy is as health as ever, with frequent protests and strikes. Voting and democracy is taken very seriously here.


    “Chileans delight in recounting the joke that after God made most of South America he took what was left over-bits of desert, mountain, valley, glacier, rainforest, coast and mountain and strung them together to create Chile, a slinky, thin country that extends some 4300 km, but averages less than 200 km wide: all ocean on one side and almost all Andes on the other. Sure enough, geography students could cover almost their entire syllabus in this single country: from dry desert top to sparking green rainforest to ice-capped south and a necklace of 50 active volcanoes, woven together by rivers, lakes and undulating farmland.”

  • 10% of all the worlds active volcanoes are in Chile.

- The majority of this information has been taken from “Lonely Planet: Chile”

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Very interesting facts about Chile. I'm intrigued... thanks!