Chile Economy

Chile Economy and Society

South America

Economic development

The economy in Chile was dominated by the production of copper since the beginning of the century, this country has one of the most formidable deposits known until then, being considered one of the first producers. This mineral represents about half of the total annual exports, although it has been constantly subject to fluctuations in world market prices.

Other minerals such as oil and natural gas, discovered in 1945, are exploited in Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan. It also has huge deposits of nitrates, iodine, sulfur and coal, gold, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, and silver, of which it is considered the sixth largest producer in the world.

After the coup that brought with it the death of President Salvador Allende, most of the nationalized companies were privatized. Transportation, the chemical industry and agri-food products are the sectors that have shown themselves most dynamically, although economic growth continues to be too dependent on mining exports, which makes the country’s economy in general fragile.

In 1995, agriculture used about 12% of the assets with the exception of sheep farming, which is practiced in the south of the country; Most of the agricultural activities are concentrated in the central Valley and the main crops include wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, corn, rice, tomatoes and oats. Among the fruits, grapes, melons, apples, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries have their exclusivity. The country is also an important wine producer. Rams are raised in large herds in the so -called Tierra del Fuego and in the pampas of Magellan.

About 12% of the Chilean territory is covered by timber trees such as laurel and pine, which are exploited and used essentially in carpentry and the manufacture of paper pulp.

The Chilean territory also has one of the most important fishing industries in South America, counting among the most abundant species with sardines, mackerel, hake, anchovies and lobsters.

Chile’s unit of currency is the Chilean Peso.

Social development

Compared to other South American countries, the Chilean population is relatively homogeneous. The first Spanish settlers who arrived in this country mixed with the native population of the territory, notably Araucanian and their mestizo descendants, constituting 92% of the population.

At present it has an estimated population of 15 million 116,435 residents, of which more than 5 million 420,000 live in Santiago de Chile, the capital, making it the most populated city.


A contrast predominates between two cultures, the cosmopolitan in the urban population and the more popular culture that has predominantly Spanish influence, but contains Araucanian roots. These influences are very marked in Chilean music and dance. Chile has a strong literary tradition, where two Nobel Prize winners in Literature stand out: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, both poets.

Typical dances

  • La Cueca Chilena: This dance became the national dance of Chile since it became official through a legal body promulgated on September 18, 1979. However, it has been danced in the country since approximately 1824. The routine of this dance finds -according to some folklorists- a zoomorphic explanation because it comes from the “broody”, a concept that refers to the movements that a cock makes when required by the rooster.
  • La Cueca Chilota: Although essentially this variety preserves the main characteristics of the traditional cueca, the differences lie in the fact that the music of the Chilote dance does not present the initial couplet and the interpreter stands out with his voice over the instruments. The steps are shorter and there is a double
  • La Cueca Nortina: The northern dances are one of the essential expressions during the celebrations of the multiple religious festivities in which the residents of the area fervently participate repeatedly during the year. In the tributes to the patron saints of different localities, such as those made for San Andrés, the Virgen del Carmen de la Tirana and San Pedro, more than a hundred dancing brotherhoods participate, each one made up of more than twenty members and where children and elderly women are also included.

– Other National Dances

The customs and traditions are manifested through folkloric dances; Other national dances or folk dances that take place in different areas of the country are:

  • Nortinos dances
  • Dances of the Central Zone
  • Dancing in the South of Chile
  • The Dances of Easter Island


It is established as the Day of the Chilean National Holiday, on September 18, the date on which the Establishment of the First National Board of Government is celebrated in 1810.


Spanish is the official language and is spoken by almost the entire population, although a small minority still communicate in their native language.


About 79% of the population practice the Catholic religion. The Catholic Church has the greatest power in Chilean society, although it was officially destabilized in 1925. The rest of the believers are Pentecostal Protestants and there is 1% Jewish. A small minority practices the traditional religion of the first settlers of America.


Most of the population has medical insurance, sponsored by the National Health Service. Workers receive a pension and some health and social security benefits.

Chile Economy