In 1531 the Spanish conquered Peru from the Incas. One of the Conquistadors in that voyage was Diego de Almagro. He left in 1535 to the South of Peru after territorial disputes. He is credited with being the first European to explore the coast of Chile. However he did not leave any lasting marks on the territory. It wasn't until the voyage of Pedro de Valdivia 1540-1541 that a permanent Spanish presence was established. Valdivia founded a string of villages on his way south. Finally, on 12th of February 1541 he founded Santiago.
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 country's current constitution was adopted in 1980 during the military government led by Augusto Pinochet and increased the power of the president and institutionalized the participation of the commanders in chief of the armed forced in the institutional life. After Pinochet's defeat on the 1988 referendum, several amendments have been made, decreasing the power of the president and toning down the voice of the armed forces. As of 2004, discussions about further reforms continue, but have a low priority.
Executive Branch is headed by the president of the republic. As of 2004 the president was the socialist Ricardo Lagos. The president also appoints the cabinet members. The president is chosen for 6 year terms and cannot be immediately re-elected.
Judicial Branch has the Supreme court as its highest institution. For questions related to the constitution there is the Constitutional Court, which also has the right to veto laws that it considers go against the constitution.
Legislative Branch is made up of 2 chambers.
The Senate which has 38 members elected by popular vote, nine appointed from various institutions such as the National Security Council and the judicial system and the President of the Republic, and the former presidents of the republic. The elected Senators are chosen for eight year terms in a bi-nominal election system that favors the two largest political blocks.
The Chamber of Deputies has 120 members, all of which are universally chosen. Deputies serve 4 year terms.
For any law to be passed, a law has to pass through both chambers and be approved by the president of the republic (who has a limited veto right). The chambers and the president can all propose new laws, but there are matters
where only the president can start a law.
Although there are some known cases of corruption in Chile, there is no rampant abuse of power by public officials.
Chile is divided into 13 regions, each of which is headed by an intendente. Every region is further divided into provinces with a Gobernador provincial. Finally each province is divided into various Comunas each with its own mayor. Intendentes and gobernadores are appointed by the president, mayors are elected by popular vote.
Each region is designated by a name and a Roman numeral. Numbers are assigned from north to south. In general the Roman numeral is used, rather than the name. The only exception is the region where Santiago is situated, which is designated RM, that stands for Región Metropolitana, Metropolitan Region.
The climate varies widely 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, which are one of Chile's main exports, and the production of wine, also a growing export.
The economy is mostly export driven. Its main export product still continues to be copper, followed by agribusinessproducts. However this is not nearly as important (40% of total value exported) as it was 30 years ago (70% of exports). Recently Chile has also started exporting products such as fine wines from various regions, salmon and wood pulp. Though the country is not as industrialized as developed countries, it's one of the most industrialized nations of Latin America.
While the main industry of the northern part of Chile is mostly mining related, the southern half has quite an extensive agricultural and dairy industry. The Central-zone is dedicated mostly to services and industry, with the main harbor, Valparaíso, Chile, also situated in this part of the country.
Chile has a large service sector and has one of the world's most liberalized and modern telecommunications infrastructures. Tourist industry is also still growing in Chile. People are attracted to the country's rugged beauty of the southern woodlands, the emptiness of the northern desert plains and the May to September skiing season in the Andes mountains.
In the boom years of the 1990s yearly economic growth was in the 7 to 12% range. After the Asian financial crisis in 1997, economic growth has slowed to a steady 3% per year.
The shield-of-arms depicts the two national animals: the condor (Vultur gryphus, a very large bird that lives in the mountains) and the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus, an endangered white tail deer). It also has the legend Por la razón o la fuerza (By reason or by force):
Mark's Hot Links Dedication to all foods hot and spicy. A good collection of links, recipes and other tidbits related to spice. http://www.exit109.com/~mstevens/hotlinks.shtml
UK Chile Head Everything about chile peppers. An extensive database of pepper types with descriptions and images. Cooking, canning and preserving, and cultivation information, with recipes. Huge database of chili (the meat dish) recipes. http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/%7egcaselton/chile/chile.html
Johnny Ciao The Spiceman Recipes, cooking lessons and music all combined with a enormous inventory of spices and herbs from all over the world. Each item has a helpful description as well. http://www.johnnyciao.com
The Curry Club Curry fans' dining club for lovers of Indian and other Asian spicy food established 1962; the original non-commercial meeting place for authentic curries. http://www.thecurryclub.org.uk/
Capsicum frutescens Good information including the origin and uses, both as a food and a naturopathic remedy, of this plant. http://www.geocities.com/nutriflip/Naturopathy/Capsicum.html
The Ring of Fire Webring including sales of a wide selection of chile seeds, hot foods and related products, recipes, and pepper history. http://www.ringoffire.net/
Habanero Homepage Information about habanero peppers and other chile peppers. Includes a heat scale based on scoville units, recipes and history. http://www.diamondbullet.com/darren/habanero
rocoto.com Information on collecting, growing, eating, and preserving South American chile peppers. http://www.rocoto.com
Chile Knights Archive of columns by Sunny Conley from the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico. Includes recipes, folklore, trivia, stories, and news about chiles and those who consume them. http://www.zianet.com/sunny/
Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages Reference information about more than 100 herbs and spices, plus their usage in ethnic cuisines. http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/index.html
The Chile Pepper Institute New Mexico State University site with information on varieties on chili, chili pungency, and links to sauce companies. http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org/
Hotchili Portal The hot chili sauce and epicurean web portal. Your online guide to hot chili products, food, wine, and recipes online. http://hotchilisauce.hypermart.net
curryguidenet Directory of Indian restaurants and takeaways plus a description of curries and the spices used in them. http://www.curryguidenet.co.uk
The Spice Barn An online resource for quality spices, herbs, and blends. http://www.thespicebarn.com
Chile Pepper Sauces Informational site about hot and mild peppers, sauces, and salsas. Includes recipes, growing and canning information, and reviews of a variety of hot sauces. http://www.chile-pepper-sauces.com
Chiliheads of Arizona Tucson, Arizona based organization promoting competition chili cookoffs for charities. Offers calendar of events. http://angelfire.com/cantina/chili
Chile Balcony Offers chile growing photos from a balcony in Stockholm. http://www.zetterstrand.com/chiles
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