Chile - Statistics & Facts

Chile is located in South America forming a long narrow strip between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east. Peru is at its northern tip, Bolivia is located to the northeast, and Argentina forms a predominant border with the country to the east. The Pacific islands Juan Fernandez, Salas y Gomez, Desventuradas, and the Easter Island also belong to Chile. Chile is considered to be one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations; however, in the past few years, economic growth has faltered slightly, mainly due to the country’s dependence on copper production. Another factor is the increasingly uneven wealth distribution throughout the country, which Chile has yet to address.

The population of Chile is estimated to be around 18.4 million, as of 2017. Its population growth rate has been decreasing over the last few years, mainly because of a declining fertility rate which is below the replacement level. The country is predominantly urban with almost all of its population living in urban areas, making it one of the most urbanized nations in the world. The largest of Chile’s urban areas in terms of population is Santiago, which is also the county’s capital.

While Chile's economy has been historically strong, GDP decreased slightly in 2015 and 2016, due to falling growth rates. Around the same time, other economic indicators showed a decline, even if only slightly. Chile produces far more than copper than any other nation, but production faltered a bit in 2011 and 2012. From 2014 through 2016, the inflation rate rose more than usual, but it is projected to return to normal for the foreseeable future.

Chile’s trade balance is quite unstable; it was in the red in 2012 and 2013, as well as in 2015, but in 2016, it returned to a surplus once again. China and the United States are Chile’s most important trade partners for both imports and exports. Services generate the largest share of the economy, followed by industry, while a small share pertains to agriculture. The distribution of employment by economic sector almost mirrors that of the distribution of GDP, except a larger share of employment comes from the agricultural sector accompanied by a slight reduction in employment in the industrial sector. GDP per capita was estimated at 14,314 U.S. dollars in 2017 and is expected to increase over the next few years.

Chile was ranked as one of the top 20 countries for having the biggest inequality in income based on the Gini index in 2015. In order to remain a stable and prosperous nation, this problem needs to be addressed. Additionally, diversifying its economic base beyond copper could also help stabilize the economy further, even though Chile is the world's largest producer now.

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