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Destinations - South America - Chile & Argentina - World Facts
Chile
 
Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous 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 Indians were completely subjugated. After a series of elected governments, a three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have 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.
 
Location
Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
 
Climate
Temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
 
Nationality
Noun: Chilean(s)
Adjective: Chilean
 
Ethnic Groups
White and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)
 
Population
16,746,491 (July 2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 60
 
Religion
Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)
 
Languages
Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English
 
GDP (purchasing power parity)
$243.7 billion (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 46
 

Argentina
 
In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist populism and direct and indirect military interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983 after a failed bid to seize the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands by force, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the successive resignations of several presidents.
 
Location
Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay
 
Climate
Mostly temperate; arid in southeast; sub-antarctic in southwest
 
Nationality
Noun: Argentine(s)
Adjective: Argentine
 
Ethnic Groups
White (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%
 
Population
41,343,201 (July 2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 31

Religion
Nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
 
Languages
Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French
 
 Source: Central Intelligence Agency
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