Ricardo Lagos


(pronounced "Ree-CAR-doe LA-gos")

"We must end the two Chiles. No longer can we accept an unjust nation where the rich live comfortably while too many people live in poverty."

The Republic of Chile is long and narrow, covering an area of 756,950 sq km (292,260 sq mi). It lies along the Pacific coast of Latin America, bordered by Peru and Bolivia to the north, Argentina to the east, and Cape Horn to the south. Easter Island (Isla de Pascua), the Juan Fernandez Islands, and many other small islands to the west and south also form part of Chile. The Andes Mountains separate Chile from Argentina, leaving Chile relatively isolated within Latin America. Chile is among the nations that claim territory in Antarctica; Chile claims ownership of 1.2 million sq km (463,320 sq mi) of Antarctica.

Chile had an estimated population of 15,498,930 in 2002. Approximately 95% of the population is mestizo, which is mixed Spanish and Amerindian. About 3% is Amerindian, and about 2% is of other descent, mostly European. Of Amerindians, the Araucanians (also known as Mapuches) are the largest in number. Most Chileans are Roman Catholic, with about 11% Protestant. The capital of Chile is Santiago.

Chile's wealth has traditionally been found in its natural resources; however, it is now becoming a modern industrial nation. Exports include minerals, nitrates, fish meal, wood products, and fruit and vegetables. Chile has long remained the world's leading producer and exporter of copper. Chile had success with its economy in the 1990s, during which growth averaged 6% a year and was accompanied by a substantial increase in real wages. Chile obtains a significant percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) from its exports, which increasingly include not just products but capital and know-how. The per capita GDP was estimated at US $10,000 in 2001. Unemployment in 2001 was 1999 when unemployment reached about 11%, optimism for future growth remains high. By 2000, unemployment had dropped to just 9%, but government programs to stimulate the economy remained stalled. The Chilean unit of currency is the peso .


Officio de Presidente
Santiago, Chile
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