Chile’s history

Brief history of Chile summarized

A general look at the history of Chile, in a brief and summarized way.

Chilean Beginnings

The first humans arrived in Chile around 12,000 BC At first, people lived by hunting and farming, but in the north of Chile they were engaged in agriculture in 2,500 BC However, agriculture began much later in the South of Chile.

The Incas conquered northern Chile in the 15th century, but were also conquered by the Spanish in 1533. However, in the south there was a people called the Araucanos.

In 1540 a Spaniard named Pedro de Valdivia invaded southern Chile and founded Santiago in 1540. However, in 1553 the Mapuche, known to the Spanish as Araucanos, rebelled led by men named Lautro and Caupolicán. They sacked the Spanish settlements except Concepción and La Serena.

The Spanish managed to regain control, but the Araucanians continued to resist Spanish rule until the 19th century and there were frequent conflicts between them and the Spanish.

Despite the fact that at the end of the 17th century the population of Chile was about 100,000 and at the end of the 18th century it was almost 500,000, most of whom were mestizos or mestizos.

Independent Chile

In 1808 Napoleon occupied Spain and deposed King Ferdinand VII. He made his own brother his, José, king of Spain. So in Chile the leading citizens elected a junta in September 1810. They claimed they were ruling on behalf of the deposed King Ferdinand, but introduced a series of reforms and moved toward independence.

However, Peru remained loyal to Spain and went to war with Chile to test her. In October 1814 a royalist army defeated the Chileans and occupied Santiago.

Meanwhile, Napoleon had abdicated and the Spanish king had been restored. The king then clamped down on Chile and introduced a repressive regime, which simply alienated the people.

A man named José de San Martín led an army that defeated the royalists at Chabuco on February 12, 1817. Chile formally gained independence from Spain on February 12, 1818.

However, the first years of Chile’s independence were affected by political instability. However, in 1829 the Conservatives seized power and introduced an authoritarian regime. They were led by Diego Portales, who never became president but was nonetheless highly influential.

In 1833 a new constitution for Chile was written. A long period of relative stability in Chile followed. There was also economic growth and the first railways were built.

However, after 1873 Chile plunged into recession and exports of wheat, silver and copper fell dramatically.

Finally in 1879 the war began between Chile on one side and Peru and Bolivia on the other. For years Chile and Bolivia had a border dispute.

Finally, Chile agreed to recognize the disputed territory as Bolivian as long as Bolivia did not increase the tax on the exports of Chilean nitrate companies operating there. When Bolivia raised the tax, that led to war. Peru joined the war on the side of Bolivia.

In 1879 the Chileans captured the largest warship Hudascar Peru. The Chileans invaded southern Peru. In 1881 they captured the capital, Lima. The war with Peru ended in 1883 and the war with Bolivia in 1884. Chile gained territory at the expense of Peru and Bolivia.

Then, in the last years of the 19th century, Chile’s nitrate exports soared and the country became prosperous again.

However, the Chilean congress then argued with the president. In 1890 Congress refused to accept the President’s budget for 1891. The President announced that he would use the 1890 budget again in 1891. Congress claimed it was illegal and fled. A brief civil war followed, and the president’s army was defeated. He committed suicide.

Chile in the last 100 years

Congress then became much stronger and the president’s power was drastically reduced. Meanwhile, the Chilean economy prospered and industry grew.

Unfortunately, when World War I began in 1914, nitrate exports collapsed, causing much unrest in Chile.

The military decided that only a strong presidency would be able to deal with the crisis in Chile and from 1924 they intervened in Chilean politics. In 1925 a new constitution was drafted. However, the depression of the 1930s meant an economic collapse in Chile.

It also led to political instability with many strikes and changes of government. Stability was restored in 1932 when Arturo Alessandri became president of Chile again. (Alessandri had been president before.)

Subsequently, Chile became a multi-party system with right, left and liberal parties. However, in 1958, the socialist Salvador Allende narrowly failed to win the presidency, greatly alarming the right.

In 1964 a Christian Democrat named Eduardo Frei was elected president. He introduced a series of reforms, such as the minimum wage. However, his reforms were not enough for some, while for others they were too much. Chile became increasingly divided between the left and the right.

Then, in September 1970, the socialist Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile. Allende nationalized industries, but that depleted foreign exchange reserves. He also initiated a radical agrarian reform. However, government spending far exceeded its revenue, leading to a huge deficit.

The world price of copper also fell, further reducing government revenue. Inflation also increased very rapidly and food shortages became common. Also, in October 1972, a truckers’ strike brought Chile to a standstill. Finally, on September 11, 1973, the army staged a coup led by Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet introduced a brutal military dictatorship in Chile. The worst instrument of repression was his secret police, the DINA. At first, however, Pinochet was economically successful. Inflation in Chile stopped and unemployment fell. However, in the early 1980s, Chile entered a recession. It did not recover until the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, in 1980 Pinochet drafted a new constitution. Under him it would continue in power until 1988. Then the people would decide if they wanted the military government to continue or if they wanted an election.

It was no surprise when the majority of Chileans voted against the continuation of the military government. In the elections that followed in 1989, a Christian Democrat named Patricio Aylwin became president.

During the 1990s, Chile enjoyed rapid economic growth, which continued into the early years of the 21st century. Today, poverty in Chile is rapidly declining. Chile is also a stable democracy.

In 2010 Sebastián Piñera was elected president. Also in 2010 Chile joined the OECD. Today Chile’s economy is growing steadily. Chile has a bright future. The current population of Chile is 17.8 million inhabitants.

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