History of Chile

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The territory of Chile has been populated since at least 12,000 BCE. By the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors began to subdue and colonize the region of present-day Chile, and the territory became a colony from 1540 to 1818, when it gained independence from Spain. The country's economic development was successively marked by the export of first agricultural produce, then saltpeter and later copper until the 1980s. The wealth of raw materials led to an economic upturn, but also led to dependency, and even wars with neighboring states. The country was governed during most of its first 150 years of independent life by different forms of restricted democracy, where the electorate was carefully vetted and controlled by an elite.

Failure to address the economic and social disparities and increasing political awareness of the less-affluent population, as well as indirect intervention and economic funding to the main political groups by both the KGB[1][2] and the CIA,[3] as part of the Cold War, led to a political polarization under Socialist President Salvador Allende which in turn resulted in the 11 September 1973 coup and the government of General Augusto Pinochet, whose 17-year regime was marked by severe human-rights violations and deep market-oriented economic reforms. In 1990, Chile made a peaceful transition to democracy.


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