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Chile is a republic in southwestern South America, bounded on the north by Peru, on the east by Bolivia and Argentina, and on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean. It has an extreme northern-southern length of about 2650 mi, but its average width is less than 110 mi, making it the longest island. Archipelagoes extend along the southern Chilean coast from Chiloé Island to Cape Horn, the southernmost point of the South American continent. Among these are the Chonos Archipelago, Wellington Island, and the western portion of Tierra del Fuego. Other islands belonging to Chile include the Juan Fernández Islands, Easter Island, and Sala y Gómez, all of which lie in the South Pacific. The country has a total area of 292,258 sq mi. Chile also claims a section of Antarctica. The country's capital and largest city is Santiago.
Compared with other South American countries, Chile has a population that is relatively similar. The early Spanish settlers intermarried with the Native Americans, the Araucanian; their descendants, the mestizos, make up more than 92 percent of the current population. European immigration has not been as important in Chile as in other countries of the Americas; immigration was only mildly encouraged in the 19th century. German immigrants have, however, been an important influence in the Valdivia-Puerto Montt area. Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, the former Yugoslavia, and France have also made significant contributions to the population. Today less than 2 percent of the country's population is of unmixed European stock. Only 6 percent of the population is pure Native American, mainly Araucanians who are concentrated in the southern region.
Spanish is the official language of Chile and is spoken by virtually the entire population. The use of Native American languages is limited.
Roman Catholics constitute about 79 percent of the population of Chile. The Roman Catholic church is a major force in Chilean society, although the church was officially disestablished in 1925. Most of the remaining population is Pentecostal Protestant, and about 1 percent is Jewish. Native Americans practicing traditional religions constitute a very small minority.
The arts and the educational system of Chile are, to a large extent, based on European models. Nevertheless, a distinctive cultural tradition has evolved which combines elements of the various ethnic groups and has been influenced by the expansion of the national frontier.
Two lively and contrasting cultural strains predominate in Chile: the cosmopolitan culture of the affluent urban population and the popular culture of the peasants, which is predominantly Spanish but contains traces of Araucanian heritage. The latter influences are strongest in Chilean music and dance. Chile has a flourishing literary tradition and has produced two Nobel Prize winners in literature, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, both poets.
Chile's most important cultural institutions are concentrated in the large cities of the central region. These institutions include the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Historical Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History, all located in Santiago, and the Natural History Museum in Valparaíso. The country's largest library is the National Library in Santiago, with about 3.5 million volumes.
The agricultural sector is currently the fifth most important sector in terms of added value, producing a total of slightly less than 7.0% of Chile's domestic income. It also plays a significant role where employment is concerned, contributing 16% of all the jobs in the country. This works out to approximately 810,000 jobs.
In terms of production, Chilean agriculture is divided into three categories: grain and fruit production, animal production, and forest products. The structure of the Chilean agro-industry supplies both external and internal markets with a strong emphasis on investments (both foreign and local) in new technology and research. As a result, Chile has created a very dynamic export oriented agricultural sector.
The leading exports products are fruits, both fresh (grapes, kiwis, apples, etc) and processed, and forest products (mostly cellulose) which accounted respectively for 32% and 51% of the total agricultural exports. Major markets are the USA, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Wheat, potatoes and corn represent more than half of the total seeded area which was of 859,428 hectares in 1995. Wheat occupied 46% of the seeded area in 1995.
Many farmers are now looking for more profitable alternatives to traditional Chilean crops. Wheat, lentils, and tomatoes are
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Americas, Military personnel, South America, Chile, Republics, Captaincy General of Chile, Santiago, OHiggins Region, Mapuche, Ambrosio OHiggins, 1st Marquis of Osorno, Bernardo OHiggins, Chilean cuisine
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