Chile - Country history and economic development
1540. Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia conquers Indians in Chile and makes Chile a colony of Spain.
17TH CENTURY. Ranching becomes Chile's primary export trade, with large estates employing bonded peasants as European diseases reduce the native population.
18TH CENTURY. Around 20,000 Spaniards emigrate to the new Chilean colony.
1750. Chile is permitted by Spain to mint its own coins.
1791. Governor Ambrosio O'Higgins y Ballenary, a Spanish officer of Irish origin who became the governor of Chile, outlaws forced labor.
1810. Criollo (people of Spanish heritage born in Latin America during the times of conquest) leaders of Santiago declare independence from Spain.
1814. Spanish troops from Peru reconquer Chile at the Battle of Rancagua. Chile is once again a colony of Spain.
1817. Troops led by Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme (the first Chilean head of state) and General Jose de San Martin (an officer of the Spanish Army and one of the principal leaders of the independence movement) defeat the Spanish in the Battle of Chacabuco. O'Hig-gins becomes supreme director of Chile and is eventually dubbed the "father of Chile."
1818. Chile wins formal independence from Spain after San Martin defeats the last large Spanish force in the Battle of Maipu. The first provisional constitution is approved in plebiscite.
1823. Slavery is abolished.
1839. The first bank notes of Chilean currency go into circulation.
1884. Bolivia loses access to the South Pacific Ocean upon losing a border war with Chile.
1927. Economic and political crises in Chile bring army officer Carlos Ibanez to power. He creates a powerful state system and establishes the national airline LAN Chile.
1970. The left wing coalition Popular United, led by Salvador Allende, wins the presidency, beginning Chile's first socialist government. Allende nationalizes the copper mines and begins to expropriate lands for government use and distribution. He enacts sweeping program reforms on the banking, commerce, insurance and industry sectors.
1973. Allende's government is overthrown in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. President Allende is said to have denied an offer by the military to move him and his family out of the country. Allende then dies in circumstances that remain a matter of controversy.
1980. A new constitution is put in place by the military regime stipulating a referendum on a continued dictatorship in 1988.
1988. Fifty-four percent of voters reject Pinochet's regime in a national referendum. The country has grown tired of his harsh military rule resulting in thousands of murdered and tortured Chilean citizens.
1989. Patricio Aylwin from the Christian Democratic Party is elected president. The country returns to democracy and continues with the market-oriented reforms of the military regime.
1991. Chile begins an aggressive campaign to negotiate free trade agreements with other Latin American countries.
1994. Chile signs free trade agreements with various nations. The United States officially invites Chile to join the North American Free Trade Agreement during the closing ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Miami.
1996. Chile becomes an associate member of MERCOSUR (a trade group which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay).
1998. The Chilean economy begins to feel the effects of the East Asian crisis, and demand for Chilean exports declines. Pinochet retires as commander in chief of the armed forces and visits Britain. While he is in London, Spain requests the general's extradition for human rights abuses against Spanish citizens, and he is held under house arrest pending a legal decision.
1999. The Chilean economy begins to recover from a recession that began in 1998 as a result of the East Asian crisis. Pinochet is released by the British Home Secretary on grounds of ill health and returns to Chile where he remains under house arrest.
2000. The Chilean economy recovers well from the East Asian crisis and continues along a path of growth, increased globalization, and free trade.