Country Listing

Chile Table of Contents



Population: 13.7 million (July 1993 estimate), with 1.6 percent average annual population growth rate between 1982-92. Projected annual population growth rate 1991-2000, 1.5 percent. Density, 18 persons per square kilometer (1993), with great regional variations. Fifth, Eighth, and Santiago Metropolitan regions contained 63 percent of population, with about 39 percent or 5.3 million in Santiago Metropolitan Region (1992). Population about 86 percent urban, 14 percent rural. Urban population annual growth rate in 1960-91, 2.6 percent; projected 1991-2000, 1.8 percent. Of some 335 communities nationally in 1993, poorest twenty-one located in regions of Araucanía (eleven), Bío-Bío (five), and Coquimbo (five), containing 2.62 percent of national population.

Ethnic Groups: Mestizo (mixed native American and European ancestry), 66 percent; European, 25 percent; native American, 7 percent; other, 2 percent. Under law of September 28, 1993, state recognizes Mapuche (also called Araucanian), Aymara, Rapa Nui, Quechua, Colla, Alacalufe, and Yagán as main indigenous communities. Native Americans totaled 1.3 million in 1992, including 928,069 Mapuche, 48,477 Aymara, and 21,848 Rapa Nui. Quechua and Aymara located in north; Alacalufe and Ona in south; Mapuche, who speak Mapudungu, in south and Central Chile, mostly around Temuco; Pascuene and Huilliche in Easter Island territory. Only Mapuche and former Huilliche islanders managing to survive culturally on mainland.

Official Language: Spanish (called Castellano in Chile).

Education and Literacy: In 1966 primary education became eight years and secondary education four years. School calendar: March through December. In mid-1980s primary school attendance varied between 93 percent and 96 percent; by 1989 secondary school enrollment had risen to 75 percent. Students in universities and professional institutes numbered about 153,100 in 1989, or 10.3 percent. Combined primary and secondary school enrollment ratio in 1987-90: 90 percent. Adult literacy rate 94.6 percent, with average of 7.5 years of schooling (1992).

Health: Heavy investments in programs for very poor and in water and sanitation systems helped lower infant mortality rates and raise life expectancy, giving country a relatively high human development index (HDI) world ranking of thirty-sixth in 1992. Proportion of Chileans living in poverty decreased from 45 percent in 1985 to 33 percent in 1992. Birthrate 22.4 per 1,000 population; total fertility rate 2.7 children born per woman (1993); death rate 5.6 deaths per 1,000 population (1992). In 1993 life expectancy estimated at seventy-one years male, seventy-seven years female (74 total). Infant mortality rate in 1992: 17 per 1,000 live births. Population with access to health services in 1988-90, 95 percent; safe water, 86 percent (rural/urban average), 100 percent (urban); sanitation 83 percent; sanitary services 100 percent urban, 6 percent rural. Recorded twenty-eight cholera cases in first nine months of 1993, with no deaths. In 1984-89 population per doctor: 1,230. Social security benefits expenditures as a percentage of GDP: 9.9 percent (1980-89).

Religion: In 1992 census, population segment aged fourteen years and older (totaling 9,775,222), 76.7 percent declared Roman Catholic, 13.2 percent Evangelical or Protestant, 7 percent indifferent or atheist, and 4.2 percent other, including small Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Orthodox communities. Roman Catholic Church source of significant opposition to military regime of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1973-90), playing key role in protection of human rights. Church's influence in society has diminished since 1970s because of substantial growth of Pentecostal (Evangelical) churches.

Data as of March 1994