A Spanish colony until the 1810s, after gaining its independence, Chile has had a remarkably stable institutional life, with only a handful of interruptions, the longest and most recent being the government of Augusto Pinochet.
The population is mostly mestizo, with some remaining of the original ethnias still living in the south, and contribution of some more recent european migration.
The climate varies from subtropical in the north, passing by the most arid desert in the world, the Atacama Desert, through a fertile valley in the center, to a cold and damp south, originally covered by forest. The Mediterranean quality of the central valley made it ideal for the cultivation of table fruits, that are one of the main exports, and the production of wine, also a growing export.
From the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the U.S. Department of State website. Not Wikified.