Chile (// or /ˈtʃɪleɪ/), officially the Republic of Chile (Spanish: República de Chile, [reˈpuβlika ðe ˈtʃile] ( listen)), is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between theAndes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas and Easter Island. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.
Chile’s northern desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern and central Chile was under Inca rule, while the independent Mapuche inhabited south-central Chile. Chile declared its independence from Spain on 12 February 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its current northern territory. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche were completely subjugated. In 1973 General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende and instituted a 16-year-long military dictatorship (1973–90) that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.
Today Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations, a recognized middle power and an emerging economy. It leads Latin American nations in human development,competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, state of peace, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption. It also ranks high regionally in sustainability of the state, and democratic development. In May 2010, Chile became the first South American nation to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Chile is a founding member of the United Nations, the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.