Country Listing

Chile Table of Contents



Size: 756,950 square kilometers (nearly twice the size of California); land area: 748,800 square kilometers, including Easter Island (Isla de Pascua; 118 square kilometers), Islas Juan Fernández (179 square kilometers), and Isla Sala y Gómez, but excluding claimed Chilean Antarctic Territory (Territorio Chileno Antártico), which covers 1,249,675 square kilometers (not recognized by the United States).

Coastline: 6,435 kilometers (continental Chile).

Maritime Claims: Contiguous zone: twenty-four nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial sea: twelve nautical miles.

Disputes: Bolivia has sought a sovereign corridor to Pacific Ocean since ceding Antofagasta to Chile in 1883; Río Lauca water rights in dispute between Bolivia and Chile; short section of southern boundary with Argentina is indefinite; Lago del Desierto (Desert Lake) region under international arbitration as a result of a border conflict between Argentina and Chile; Chile's territorial claim in Antarctica partially overlaps Argentina's claim.

Topography and Climate: One of narrowest countries in the world, averaging 177 kilometers wide (ninety kilometers wide at its thinnest point in the south and 380 kilometers across at its widest point in the north). Rugged Andes Mountains run down eastern side of country. Cordillera Domeyko (Domeyko mountain chain) in northern part of country runs along the coast parallel to the Andes. Five north-to-south natural regions: desert far north (Norte Grande), consisting of dry brown hills and sparse vegetation and containing extremely arid Atacama Desert and Andean plateau; near north (Norte Chico), a semiarid region between Río Copiapó and Santiago; Central Chile (Chile Central), most densely populated region, including three largest metropolitan areas--Santiago, Valparaíso, and Concepción--and the fertile Central Valley (Valle Central), with a temperate, Mediterranean climate; heavily forested south (Sur de Chile), south of Río Bío-Bío, containing cool and very rainy (especially during winter) lake district and crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers; far south (Chile Austral), sparsely populated, forested, constantly cold and stormy, with many fjords, inlets, twisting peninsulas, and islands. Land use: 7 percent arable (of which 29 percent irrigated), 16 percent meadows and pasture, 21 percent forest and woodland, 15 percent other, including 1 percent irrigated. Temperate rain forest totals 14,164,045 hectares. Annual rate of deforestation (1981-85): 0.7 percent. Nearly 607,030 hectares clear-cut (stripped of all trees) since 1978. Seasons: spring--September 21 to December 20; summer--December 21 to March 20; autumn--March 21 to June 20; winter--June 21 to September 20.

Principal Rivers: Aconcagua, Baker, Bío-Bío, Imperial, Loa (Chile's longest at about 483 kilometers), Maipo, Maule, Palena, Toltén, Valdivia.

Principal Lakes: Del Toro, General Carrera, Llanquihue, Puyehue, Ranco, Rupanco, Sarmiento, Villarrica.

Data as of March 1994