Title: The Republic of Chile

Population: 18,307,925

Population Change: 0.87

National Average Age: 35

Urban Percentage: 85

Christian Population: 9,900,000

Christian Percentage: 68

Introduction: 'Chile is a long narrow country stretching along South America''s western edge with more than 6000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago its capital sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The city''s palm-lined Plaza de Armas contains the neoclassical cathedral and the National History Museum. The massive Parque Metropolitano offers swimming pools a botanical garden and zoo.'

Overview: Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century the Inca ruled northern Chile while the Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810 decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83) Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche were brought under central government control. After a series of elected governments the three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by General Augusto PINOCHET who ruled until a freely elected president was inaugurated in 1990. Sound economic policies maintained consistently since the 1980s contributed to steady growth reduced poverty rates by over half and 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.