Country Profiles FMCG
With more than 1,000 insight-rich pages covering 81
countries and territories, Country Profiles offer
current and comprehensive business information, from
local laws and taxes to political and market
conditions Make them part of your smart trade
Country profile: Chile
language: Spanish President: Michelle Bachelet
Republic of Chile
Chile agriculture is only viable for 7.3 percent
of the land. Agriculture of Chile is centered
mostly along the Central Valley of Chile because
the cultivable land is found there in adequate
quantity. Agriculture in Chile is still done by
hired labor or tenants, who form almost 13.6
percent of the workforce. Onions, beans, grapes,
apples, oats, wheat, pears, corn, peaches,
asparagus, garlic are the main agricultural
products of Chile, along with wool, beef and
poultry. Chile also produces fish and timber.
Plentiful water reserves and good, predictable
climatic patterns favor the growth of Chilean
agriculture. Although the ancient management
techniques and obscure land distribution and
land use patterns along with insufficient
technological know how and ad hoc pricing
policies have deeply affected the growth of
agriculture of Chile. Adverse results in the
orthodox agricultural sector curb a faster
growth in agriculture. However the production of
grapes has rapidly risen to clock a 235% growth
from 1981 to 1985.
Exports of agricultural products by private
international and national firms were much
encouraged by the government since the time of
the military government that took over in 1973.
Hence due to this policy, Chile significantly
increased the export of canned vegetables, fresh
fruit, and wines.
Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations. It has been relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that have blighted the continent.
The exception was the 17-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet, whose 1973 coup was one of the bloodiest in 20th-century Latin America and whose dictatorship left more than 3,000 people dead and missing.
Chile is coming to terms with his legacy. Courts stripped him of his immunity from prosecution and the former president was questioned over the killings of dissidents by South American governments in the 1970s and 1980s; he denied links with the campaign until his death in December 2006.
Politics: President Michelle Bachelet is the fourth consecutive leader from the ruling, centre-left coalition
Economy: Chile has one of Latin America's strongest economies; high world prices for its copper have swollen state coffers
International: Chile is a key regional player, but it has long-running territorial disputes with Peru and Bolivia, the latter over access to the Pacific Ocean
Chile is relatively free of crime and official corruption. The authoritarian Pinochet-era constitution has been revised and the judicial system overhauled.
The country had Latin America's fastest-growing economy in the 1990s and has weathered recent regional economic instability. But it faces the challenges of having to diversify its copper-dependent economy - it is the largest world producer - and of addressing uneven wealth distribution.
Chile's unusual, ribbon-like shape - 4,300 km long and on average 175 km wide - has given it a hugely varied climate.
This ranges from the world's driest desert - the Atacama - in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a snow-prone Alpine climate in the south, with glaciers, fjords and lakes.
Most Chileans are of mixed Spanish and indigenous descent.
Michelle Bachelet took over the reins from Ricardo Lagos in March 2006 after winning run-off elections. She is the country's first woman to be president.
Michelle Bachelet was jailed and tortured by the former military junta
A former health minister, and later defence minister, she is the fourth consecutive president from the Concertacion coalition, which has led Chile since the end of military rule in 1990.
The president has asked her government to give priority to social issues and says she wants to make sure that all Chileans benefit from the country's economic growth. She is expected to maintain her predecessor's free-market policies.
Her political honeymoon came to an end in summer 2006, when hundreds of thousands of students took part in strikes and sometimes-violent protests in pursuit of education reforms.
Michelle Bachelet was politicised by the military coup of September 1973 that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.
Her father was a general in the air force who was opposed to the military government and died in prison.
She worked undercover for the Socialist Youth and she was held for weeks with her mother, Angelica, in torture and detention centres before being allowed to flee the country in 1975.
She studied in Germany and trained as a doctor before returning to Chile.
She is separated from her husband, and has three children.
Chile's national and local terrestrial TV channels operate alongside extensive cable TV networks, which carry many US and international stations.
Radio is an important source of news and information; there are hundreds of stations, most of them commercial.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the media, and this is generally respected by the authorities. The media maintain their independence, criticise the government and cover sensitive issues.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders noted in 2007 that Chile had a good name for press freedom but added that the police and military "have not lost repressive habits left over from the military dictatorship".
A 2001 press freedom act swept away many of the Pinochet-era restrictions on the media.