Chile Geography and Population

Chile Geography and Population

Chile State of South America. It borders to the North with Peru, to the East with Bolivia and Argentina ; to the S and to the West it is bathed by the Pacific Ocean. The territory stretches for approximately 4200 km in the sense of latitude and does not exceed 400 km in the sense of longitude, giving an extremely developed perimeter with respect to the enclosed surface, and generating a significant amount of problems (communications, defense).

Physical characters

The Chile can be divided, proceeding from E to West, into three morphological regions: the cordillera, a longitudinal depression (Valle Central) and a series of coastal reliefs. The Andes mountain range extends along the entire E section of the country; to the North, this also includes part of the Puna (3000-5000 m), a plateau covered by vast salares (basins, generally without water, in which a large quantity of salts have deposited), dominated by peaks over 6000 m high (Ojos del Salado, 6885 m), depopulated and desolate; in this section, the Atacama Desert extends to the western foot of the Cordillera, which descends to the ocean with a raised edge (Cordillera della Costa). AS della Puna the Andean system narrows, remaining very high up to the Cumbre pass; here rise the highest peaks, the main ones of which however fall within Argentine territory. In central Chile, on the main Andean crest, there are numerous volcanoes (Tupungato, 6550 m; Maipo, 5323 m). AS of the sources of the Neuquén, the Cordillera takes the name of the Patagonian Andes and is divided into massifs (Tronador, 3554 m; Darwin, in Tierra del Fuego, 2469 m), isolated from depressions partly occupied by lakes or invaded by ocean waters; this section is covered with forests and rich in glaciers. Between the Andes of central Chile and the coastal reliefs there is a sinking pit 900 km long and up to 90 km wide, which is the region of the most intense use by man. Towards the ocean there are coastal reliefs that are generally not prominent, but which rise here and there to over 2200 meters. These same reliefs continue in the sea, giving rise to numerous mountainous islands that face the coast of southern Chile (Chiloé, Chonos). The coast, compact to the North and in the center, to the South is extraordinarily lively, engraved by fjords and complicated by islets and rocks, divided between them by an intricate system of canals and sea branches, up to Tierra del Fuego. Far offshore from the Chile are the Desventuradas, Juan Fernández, Easter and Sala y Gómez islands. Given the recent geomorphological origin of the Andean ranges, Chile is frequently hit by violent earthquakes.

Also as regards the climatic characteristics, it is appropriate to distinguish a northern region, with an arid tropical climate (the Atacama desert is one of the regions of the Earth where the absolute lowest rainfall is recorded); a central one, with a warm temperate climate, which towards the coast is similar to the Mediterranean climate, with moderate rainfall but with summer drought; and a southern one, with a temperate-cold oceanic climate, with abundant rains in every season; in the Andes, of course, the climatic conditions are in any case dictated above all by the altitude.

Due to the proximity of the mountainous areas to the coast, Chilean rivers are short of course; moreover, due to the steepness of the western Andean side, they also have steep courses interrupted by waterfalls; consequently, they are almost not usable from the point of view of navigation, while they are abundantly exploited for the production of hydroelectric energy. In the northern Chile, the only notable river is the Loa (440 km), which in the lower course has brackish waters. Towards the south, the rivers become richer in water (Bío-Bío, 362 km, of which 130 are navigable). Southern Chile is also rich in lakes (the largest is Llanquihue, 780 km 2), some of which are shared with Argentina.

According to findjobdescriptions, in northern Chile the vegetation is distinctly xerophilous; near the coast mimosaceae, opuntias and cactaceae appear, often collected in oases; the plant landscape is enriched by proceeding towards the S and the Andean slopes, especially in the central-southern section, appear cloaked in forests, where magnolias, rosaceae, cypresses and various species of southern beech and large conifers predominate.


In pre-Columbian times, the population of Chile probably did not exceed 250,000 units. In the arid northern region lived Chango and Atacameños along the coast, and Diaguitas in the interior; in the central Araukani area (Mapuche, Huilliche, Picunche), farmers and ranchers, who made up the most complex and technologically advanced societies; further to the South, groups of Fuegian fishermen and gatherers (Alacalùf, Chono, Yamana), on the contrary, knew an elementary technology and very simple social structures. After the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the Araukan groups put up a fierce resistance, which was again vigorously renewed in the second half of the 19th century. (in sync with the ‘Indian wars’ which marked the same decades in North America) but were forced to retreat to S del Bío-Bío, where they have preserved much of their original cultural heritage to this day, despite the severe decimation that affected everyone. native groups. The population was reduced to 120,000 residents in the 17th century, the Chilean demographic dynamics underwent a decisive boost after 1835 (when it counted one million residents), due to the great European migratory wave, reaching 3 million in 1940. The natural component, with a high birth rate (35 ‰ still in the early years 1960) contributed to widening the incidence of the younger age groups (in 2006 the number of residents under 15 was estimated at 25%). Then, the relative deceleration of births (14.8 ‰ in 2008) and mortality rates, especially infants, were matched by a very significant increase in average life expectancy (which rose to 78 years, from 35 in 1930) and a growth that led again to the doubling of the residents (10 million) already around 1975. The concentration of the residents in the longitudinal depression (Valle Central) is strong,2 (over 400 in the metropolitan area of Santiago), against an average of 21.7 residents / km 2 in the whole country and values ​​below 5 at extreme latitudes.

From the ethnic point of view, it is believed that currently the population is mostly composed of mestizos of European origin (90% of the total), while the Amerindians are counted in about 10%. The trend towards urbanization (87% of the population lives in urban areas) is clear and well exemplified by the agglomeration of the capital (over 6 million residents) and by that of Valparaíso (over 1.6), while that which belongs to Concepción exceeds one million; the other cities of regional importance do not reach 300,000 residents. The rural population lives on agricultural and livestock farms, especially in the South, and in villages.

Official language is Spanish; Amerindian groups use local languages, among which Mapuche and Quechua stand out for their diffusion and relevance. The prevalent religion is Catholic (70%), with predominantly Protestant (15%) and Jewish minorities.

Chile Geography and Population

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