Cruising to Chile

Background

Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians inhabited central and southern Chile; the latter were not completely subjugated until the early 1880s. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-84), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern lands.

A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a dictatorial military regime led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.

Geography

Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Geographic coordinates: 30 00 S, 71 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 756,950 sq km
Land: 748,800 sq km
Water: 8,150 sq km; note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez

Coastline

6,435 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200/350 nm

Climate

Temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south

Terrain

Low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m

Economy

Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis.

A severe drought exacerbated the recession in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 4.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.1% in 2001 and 2.1% in 2002, largely due to lackluster global growth and the devaluation of the Argentine peso.

Chile's economy began a slow recovery in 2003, growing 3.2%, and accelerated to 6.1% in 2004-05, while Chile maintained a low rate of inflation. GDP growth benefited from high copper prices, solid export earnings (particularly forestry, fishing, and mining), and stepped-up foreign direct investment. Unemployment, however, remains stubbornly high. Chile deepened its longstanding commitment to trade liberalization with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004.

Chile signed a free trade agreement with China in November 2005, and it already has several trade deals signed with other nations and blocs, including the European Union, Mercosur, South Korea, and Mexico. Record-high copper prices helped to strengthen the peso to a 5-year high, as of December 2005, and will boost GDP in 2006.

Transportation

Airports: 363 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 72
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 291
Pipelines: gas 2,583 km; gas/lpg 42 km; liquid petroleum gas 539 km; oil 1,003 km; refined products 757 km (2004)
Railways: total: 6,585 km
Roadways: total: 79,605 km

Merchant marine

Total: 46 ships (1000 GRT or over) 692,268 GRT/942,585 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 6, chemical tanker 9, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 4
Registered in other countries: 19 (Argentina 4, Brazil 1, Greece 1, Liberia 1, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 11) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Antofagasta, Arica, Huasco, Iquique, Lirquen, San Antonio, San Vicente, Valparaiso

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Argentina - Belize - Brazil - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Ecuador - El Salvador - French Guiana - Guatemala - Guyana - Honduras - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Peru - St. Pierre and Miquelon - Suriname - Uruguay - Venezuela

Further Reading

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