Chill at Chile

Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, a barren region, but rich in minerals

Chile is one of the world's most bizarrely shaped countries, with a landmass that stretches from the Andes to the Pacific. It is nearly 4,800 kilometres (3,000 kilometres) long but is only 160 kilometres (100 kilometres) wide on average. According to the map, Chile's long and uneven shape allows it to take advantage of the very narrow strip of low-lying land along the Pacific Ocean's shoreline, as well as a narrow section of the Andes, the great ridge of volcanic mountains that dominates western South America's western coast. The Andes are home to some of the world's highest and most active volcanoes, and hardly a year goes by without an earthquake or a more catastrophic eruption from one of the volcanoes. In addition to this, volcanic activity can result in extremely fertile land in the surrounding mountains, and there is some rich farming land in central Chile, though the amount of land available for farming is limited, making it difficult to cultivate it in a productive manner.

Chile has a larger land area than any other European country, with the exception of Russia, and as a result, despite its small width, Chile's long length allows it to have a very diverse climate. It is home to both some of the world's driest deserts and some of the world's wettest forest areas. Rain has never been recorded in some parts of the Atacama desert, whereas the forested areas of the southern region receive 570 cm (225 in) of rainfall per year, the highest amount recorded anywhere outside of the tropics. Chile's central and most populous region, on the other hand, is spared from both of these extremes and instead enjoys a temperate mediterranean climate and abundant agricultural land. Farming is carried out on a massive scale, with wheat, fruit, and, in particular, wine being produced in large quantities. Here are also the major cities of Chile; Santiago, the capital, has a population of four million people, accounting for more than a third of the country's total population, while Valparaiso, the second largest city and chief port of Chile, is 130 kilometres (80 miles) to the west. 

Concepcion, located further south, is the hub of a large manufacturing industry, which is primarily focused on textiles, paper, and electrical machinery production. Chile's population is a diverse mix of races and ethnicities. Historically, Chile was inhabited by an Indian population belonging to three distinct tribes before the Spaniards arrived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After the Spanish settlers arrived, there was a great deal of inter-marriage with the Indians, and a mixed Spanish Indian race developed, along with descendants of other European immigrants. An especially interesting group of European settlers was a group of Welsh emigrants who settled in southern Chile at the beginning of the nineteenth century; they have continued to live in communities based on the Welsh village pattern and are fluent in both Welsh and Spanish; they are also bilingual in Welsh and Spanish. 

Chile has achieved a relatively high level of industrialization and now consumes more fuel and electricity per capita than any other South American country except Argentina. This is the result of the extremely rich mineral deposits that have been discovered in Chile and exploited by both the Spaniards and the Chileans in the course of their respective histories. Copper is the most important mineral in the world today, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the country's total exports in 2012. It has been estimated that Chilean copper deposits account for approximately one-third of total world supply. While this is significant, the region in northern Chile where these deposits are mined also produces significant quantities of iron ore, gold, and silver in addition to copper. Another important mineral deposit in Chile is nitrates, which are mined in the desert and combined with large deposits of guano on the coast to provide vital fertilisers for farming. Nitrates are mined in the desert to provide fertilisers for farming. Prior to 1914, Chile had a near monopoly on the production of nitrates and supplied two-thirds of the world's supply of fertilisers, according to some estimates. 

As a result of the development of artificial fertilisers, the industry has declined in importance and has been displaced as the second most important mineral mined in Chile by iron ore, which is now the second most important. Oil was discovered in 1945, and the industry has since grown to be completely self-sufficient. Oil is no longer brought into the country. There are also several minor industries, the most important of which is the newly developed cotton and woollen textile industry in Santiago, which is the most important of the minor industries. The agricultural sector in Chile is beset with difficulties. The majority of it is carried out by small peasant farmers with extremely low levels of productivity. Chile, with its rich soil and temperate climate, has the potential to be self-sufficient; however, the country currently imports a large amount of food each year. 

The increased production on the farms is not keeping up with the growing population, which is causing a slew of problems for the country. The first is the education of the farmer in modern methods that will assist him in improving and increasing the yield of his or her crops. Production is at the same level as it was twenty years ago, indicating that there is a significant opportunity for improvement. One of the most important reforms is the provision of sufficient land in sufficient areas so that it can be farmed profitably, free from the heavy burdens of the old system of land tenure imposed by the wealthy land owning class. Prior to President Allende's land reform, Chile had many extremely large farms, some covering as much as 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) or more. Meanwhile, 50,000 peasants had little more than one hectare (2.5 acres) of land per family. 

By early 1972, 3,601 farms (covering approximately 7,000,000 hectares, or 18,000,000 acres) had been expropriated, and 43,000 families had been resettled. Further efforts are being made to electrify as many farms as possible and to establish co-operatives to market the food that is produced on the farms themselves. Apart from the state of the country's agriculture, one of the country's most pressing problems is the state of its people. Chileans were illiterate until relatively recently, and they lived off the land as tenants of landlords, earning little more than a subsistence living by farming land that had been rented out to them by landlords. Due to the lack of a market for manufactured goods, any form of development was unable to establish itself, and industry was hampered in its efforts to compete. 

The changes will undoubtedly be gradual, but Chile is already progressing; education is free and compulsory, and recent agricultural reforms and industrial developments appear to indicate that the country will eventually become a successful modernised society. These are the areas of Chile that are deemed unfit for industrial or agricultural development, and are therefore designated as tourist destinations. The southern end of Chile, which stretches all the way down to Tierra del Fuego on South America's southernmost tip, is a region characterised by lakes and deep valleys of exceptional beauty, which is hoped to draw the attention of visitors from the United States and other parts of the world.