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Discover Chile, a long and narrow country stretching along the western edge of South America, with the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Known for its stunning landscapes that range from the world’s driest desert in the north to vast glacial fields in the south, Chile’s geographical diversity is unmatched. Its rich history encompasses indigenous cultures, Spanish colonization, and a path to modern democracy that reflects the resilience and spirit of the Chilean people. This unit study will take you on a journey through Chile’s unique geography, vibrant culture, and significant contributions to the world.


  • Location and Size: Chile extends over 4,300 kilometers (2,670 miles) from north to south but is only about 177 kilometers (110 miles) wide from east to west, covering a total area of approximately 756,102 square kilometers.
  • Continent: South America
  • Borders: Bordered by Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south.
  • Landforms: Home to a variety of landscapes including the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth; the fertile Central Valley; and the Andes Mountains. The southern region features lakes, fjords, and glaciers.
  • Climate Zones: The climate varies dramatically from the world’s driest desert in the Atacama to a Mediterranean climate in the central region, and to an oceanic climate with heavy rainfall and cool temperatures in the south.
  • Regions: Chile is divided into 16 regions, each with its own unique characteristics and administrative capital.


  • Timeline of Major Events: Chile’s history is rich, from the advanced pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Mapuche, to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, independence in the early 19th century, and the political and social upheavals of the 20th century, including the military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990.
  • Pre-Colonial: Indigenous peoples, including the Mapuche, Aymara, and Rapa Nui, had sophisticated societies and resisted Spanish conquest for many years.
  • Colonial: Spain colonized the region in the 16th century, introducing Catholicism and new governance structures.
  • Modern History: Chile declared independence from Spain in 1818. The 20th century saw significant political changes, including the election of Salvador Allende and the subsequent military coup led by Augusto Pinochet. The return to democracy in 1990 marked a new chapter in Chilean history.


  • Political System: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
  • Type of Government: Chile’s government is divided into three branches: the executive, led by the President; the legislative, composed of the National Congress (Senate and Chamber of Deputies); and the judiciary.
  • Head of State: The President of Chile, who serves as both the head of state and government.
  • Structure of Power: The government exercises executive power, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the National Congress.


  • Main Industries: Mining (copper, lithium), agriculture (fruit, wine), fishing, and forestry. Chile is the world’s largest producer of copper.
  • Exports: Copper, lithium, fruits, seafood, and wine.
  • Imports: Machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment, oil, and steel.
  • Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)
  • Economic Challenges and Strengths: Chile has a strong and stable economy with a high level of foreign trade. Challenges include economic inequality and reliance on copper exports.


  • Traditions: Rich in cultural traditions, Chile celebrates many festivals throughout the year, including Fiestas Patrias, which marks Chile’s independence.
  • National Foods: Chilean cuisine features seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional dishes include empanadas, cazuela (a meat and vegetable stew), and pastel de choclo (corn pie).
  • Holidays and Festivals: In addition to Fiestas Patrias, other significant celebrations include the Vendimia (grape harvest festival) and the Tapati Festival on Easter Island.
  • Art, Music, Literature: Chile has a strong literary tradition, with two Nobel Prize-winning poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. Traditional music styles include cueca and folk music influenced by indigenous and Spanish cultures.
  • Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, with freedom of religion.
  • Language(s) and Dialects: Spanish is the official language, with several indigenous languages also spoken, including Mapudungun and Quechua.
  • Clothing, Food, Family Structure, Social Norms, and Customs: Family is central in Chilean society, with traditional values and a mix of indigenous and Spanish influences evident in daily life.


  • Demographics: Chile has a population of about 18 million people, with a mix of European and indigenous ancestry.
  • Education System: Education is compulsory until the age of 18, with the government providing free public education at all levels. Chile also has several prestigious universities.
  • Healthcare System: Chile has a dual healthcare system, offering both public and private options. The public system is accessible to all, but there are challenges regarding access and quality.

Fun Facts

  • Chile claims a part of Antarctica as Chilean territory.
  • The Atacama Desert is so dry that some parts have never recorded rainfall.
  • Easter Island, known for its monumental statues called moai, is a Chilean territory.