Chili(Tchee'lee; Span. Chile, pron. Tchee'lay),one of the republics of South America, on the west coast and bordering on Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. It may be described as a long strip of territory lying between the summit of the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, extending from about the 18th parallel of south latitude to the southern extremity of Tierra del Fuego. After the war with Bolivia and Peru (1879-81), Chili acquired the coast between 23° and 25° S. claimed by Bolivia, and annexed the Peruvian province of Tarapaca. Chili occupies the Peruvian province of Tacna (with Arica), subject to the payment of a war indemnity by Peru. In the south the disputed claims of Chili and Argentina to Patagonia have been settled by Chili taking all territory and islands south of the 52d parallel and west of 68° 30' W. This includes the larger portion of Tierra del Fuego. The Strait of Magellan is by treaty considered neutral. The length of Chili is about 2500 English miles. Its breadth varies from 40 to 200 miles. The Andes extend in two parallel lines throughout nearly the entire length of the country; between these two ranges of the 'Cordillera' there is a central valley or tableland. The streams in the north are mostly shallow brooks; in the south they are larger and more numerous, although most are navigable for only a few miles. The Biobio (q.v.) is the largest; the Callecalle, or Rio de Valdivia (100 miles), is the most important, because of the sheltered harbour at its mouth. In the south are also many deep lakes. Mineral waters, chiefly saline and sulphureous, are abundant. The most important islands are those constituting the southern province of Chiloe; Juan Fernandez also belongs to Chili. Owing to its great extension from north to south, Chili comprises regions of very different nature and climate. The north provinces, Tarapaca, Atacama, and part of Coquimbo, are arid, rainless districts, where the principal industry is mining and extraction of saltpetre. The middle and southern provinces - Aconcagua, Valparaiso, Santiago, O'Higgins, Colchagua, Curico, Talca, Linares, Maule, Nuble, Concepcion, Arauco, Biobio, Mal-leco, Cautin, Valdivia - are agricultural, with coalfields. The Patagonian provinces - Llanhique, Chiloe, and Magellanes territory - are densely wooded. The climate of Chili is, on the whole, temperate. In the north it is rather hot and rainless; in the south it is dry for about eight months of the year, and rainy the other four. In Southern Chili generally the land is poor and of hardly any value for agriculture, which, indeed, is carried on in a very primitive fashion; but the soil of the valleys, where large herds of cattle graze, is very fertile. The Andes are almost everywhere visible, covered with perpetual snow. The highest peak is Aconcagua, 22,867 feet; the average height of the great range is 8000 feet. There are many volcanic peaks, mostly extinct. Chili is subject to frequent shocks of earthquake, and occasionally to destructive terremotos; the most notable of these recorded was in 1832, when the coast near Valparaiso was thrown up permanently between 3 and 4 feet. In 1835 Concepcion and Talcahuano were destroyed by a fearful earthquake; in 1868 and again in 1875 Iquique and the northern districts suffered.
The population of Chili at the census of 1885 was 2,524,476; in 1901, 3,146,580. Santiago, the capital, has 296,700 inhabitants; Valparaiso, 132,950; Talca, Concepcion, Iquique, and Chilian, from 50,000 to 30,000. The natives of Chili are a mixture of Spanish with the Araucanian Indians. In the upper classes the race has been kept more purely Spanish than in any other South American country. The working-classes are laborious and docile, but it cannot be said that there is as yet any effectual protection for property. The manufactures are confined to copper-smelting, sugar-refining, tanning, brewing, manufactures of soap and candles, biscuits, boots and shoes, woollens, flax, and nitrates.
Chili is a Roman Catholic country, but other religions are tolerated. Education receives much attention. There is a first-class university at Santiago, and a lyceum in every provincial capital. The language spoken in Chili is Spanish, but with many local words of Indian origin.
The value of imports in 1890-1902 varied from $63,000,000 to $160,000,000; the exports varied from $69,000,000 to $175,000,000. About a third of the imports and two-thirds of the exports are from and to Britain, the German and French trade being next in importance. Mineral products represent five-sixths of the total exports. The chief articles of export are nitrate and iodine, copper, silver, gold, manganese, hides, wool, wheat, and barley. The principal imports are cotton, woollen, and jute goods, iron, hardware, coal, machinery, timber, rice, sugar, earthenware, cement, paper, beer, glassware, kerosene, tallow, matches, tea and coffee.
A government broad-gauge railway line runs from Valparaiso to Santiago, crossing the coast-range of the Andes, and thence southwards through the central valley to Concepcion, and through Araucania towards Valdivia, with a total length of about 1750 miles. A branch also runs to Santa Rosa at the foot of the Andes, from which a line was in progress, under difficulties, from 1890 to 1905, to unite with the Argentine railway system, via the Uspallata Pass, which it crosses at the elevation of 9843 feet above sea-level by means of a tunnel 6 1/4 miles in length. The length from Valparaiso to Buenos Ayres (from Pacific to Atlantic) is 880 miles.
The credit of Chili stands higher than that of any other South American state. At the beginning of the century the foreign debt amounted to about $85,000,000, and the internal debt, including forced paper currency in circulation, to $25,000,000. The revenue for 1901 was stated at $41,000,000, and the expenditure $43,000,000. The customs revenue, which in 1856 amounted to $4,147,298, in 1901 reached $23,000,000. The gold standard was adopted in 1895, and a loan of $20,000,000 authorised for the conversion of the paper currency.
The constitution of Chili is republican and based upon that of the United States. The cabinet consists of six ministers. The Council of State consists of five members nominated by the president, and six appointed by congress. The legislature is composed of two chambers - the Deputies, about 100 in number; and the Senate, numbering one to every five deputies. From the war of 1879-81 with Peru, Chili enjoyed peace and prosperity till 1891, when owing to President Balmaceda's aiming at dictatorial powers, a rebellion broke out which ended in Balmaceda's defeat. Boundary disputes with Argentina were referred to British arbitration and arranged in 1898.
See works on Chili by Rumbold (1877), Boyd (1881), Markham (1883), Russell (1890), Hancock (1893), and Perez Garcia (1900).