Early to modern times
The prehistoric excavations in Chilean territory, which are among the oldest finds, can be found in Calama in the province of Antofagasta and point to traces of settlement dating back to before or around 12,000 BC. lie.
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At the time of the conquest by Spanish seafarers in the mid-16th century, over half a million Indians lived on what is now national territory. The Chincha and Quechua tribes living in northern and central Chile had already been subjugated at the end of the 15th century and had become part of the Inca Empire. The situation was different with the warlike tribes of the Araucanians in central and southern Chile. These had already resisted the Inca attacks and they had successfully fended off the Spanish soldiers. Although their number decreased sharply over the years due to illnesses and wars, they held their own and, with the recognition of Spanish sovereignty, were able to prevent the Spanish from penetrating over the B¨ªo B¨ªo river into the 19th century.
Coming from Peru, according to AbbreviationFinder, the Spaniards advanced south in the 1930s; In 1541, Santiago de Chile was founded as the first European settlement on what is now Chile. Because of the few natural resources, the colony developed slowly, agriculture predominated. At the same time, a continuous intermingling between Indians and settlers began, which is the basis of today’s high homogeneity of the country’s population. It was not until 1778 that Chile was made an independent general captain.
Shortly afterwards, efforts to achieve independence began at the beginning of the 19th century. This was triggered on the one hand by the successful independence movement of the English settlers in North America, and on the other hand by the weakening of the Spaniards as European world power by the Napoleonic wars. After previous wars, an army of liberation, formed together with Argentina, succeeded in defeating the Royalists loyal to Spain in 1817 at the Battle of Chacabuco. In 1818 independence was proclaimed under the dictatorial former commander of the revolutionary army O? Higgins.
A period of domestic political turmoil followed, until a constitution was passed under Diego Portales in 1830 and a centrally organized government structure emerged, which, however, left the local landowners in power in parliament.
An active immigration policy brought new, also German-speaking, settlers into the country. In 1880 the Araucanian tribes in the south were finally subjugated. This was followed by the so-called saltpetre war against Bolivia and Peru, in which Chile in 1883 gained the regions of Antofagasta and Arica that were economically important due to the saltpetre deposits there. Saltpetre was the basic material for the production of gunpowder and also a highly effective fertilizer.
Political liberalization went hand in hand with economic development, which led to the establishment of a liberal parliamentary democracy after a revolution in 1891.
Gradually, parties emerged, such as the Radical Party, the Democratic Party, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. An urban middle class emerged, which became a political factor in the country alongside the still influential large landowners.
Chile remained cautious in terms of foreign policy; the country was neutral in the First World War. However, radicalization began domestically. When the nitrate prices fell after the First World War, from which considerable income was generated for the otherwise economically weak country, in 1924 medium-sized army officers revolted, which allowed President Arturo Alessandri Palma to undergo social reforms in Parliament and a new constitution who supported a presidential republic, the separation of church and state as well as new labor and social laws. As a result, the liberal president was replaced by the military dictator Carlos Ib¨¢nez del Campo, whose reform program fell victim to the global economic crisis.
During the Second World War, Chile remained neutral until 1942, when it, along with other Latin American countries, declared war on the Axis powers. In 1946 G. Gonz¨¢lez Videla came to power, who in the following year excluded the communists from governmental responsibility and continued to govern together with the socialists. 1952 was followed by President Carlos Ib¨¢nez del Campo. Increasing inflation and social tensions determined the domestic political picture that J. Alessandri Rodr¨ªguez, as a representative of the conservatives and liberals from 1958-1964, sought to reduce through reforms. A course that was continued by his equally conservative successor Eduardo Frei Montalva.
From the 1960s there was a political weakening of the right-wing parties and a strengthening of the left-wing parties, which in 1970 resulted in the election of the candidate for a popular front coalition, the socialist Salvador Allende, as president. Allende presented a comprehensive socialization and nationalization program that split the domestic political landscape and was fought by the majority of the congress. The parliamentary dispute was accompanied by a radicalization of both right-wing and left-wing groups, which manifested itself in terrorist actions on both sides. In September 1973 the army putsch, Allende was killed and General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was appointed as the new president. A tough military dictatorship followed, which dissolved parliament, banned political activities and persecuted supporters of left-wing parties.
In a new constitution passed in 1980, the activity of parties was prohibited and Pinochet’s presidency was fixed until 1989. Despite small improvements, the economic situation remained poor. From the mid-1980s, despite widespread intimidation and political killings, a widening opposition movement began to form. In the second half of the 1980s, the junta then initiated a reform process that allowed parties to be formed. The turning point in political development was reached when the population rejected Pinochet’s second term in a plebiscite in 1988. In 1989 the president’s term of office was reduced to six years; he also lost the right to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies.
In 1989, the Christian Democrat Az¨®car, who presided over an electoral alliance of 17 parties, was elected new president and Pinochet’s military dictatorship ended. However, Pinochet still had great power as commander in chief of the army and as a member of the Senate and the National Security Council. The elected government therefore remained restricted in its freedom of choice. In 1993, for example, an attempt to give the President the opportunity to change the commanders of the armed forces failed. In the same year, special courts were established to convict violations of human rights during the period of the military dictatorship. The role played by the Colonia Dignidad settlement, founded by Germans in 1961, in the kidnapping, torturing and killing of opponents of the regime remains unclear.
In 1994, E. Frei followed Ruiz-Tagle as president and in 1996 presented a work program for modernizing the economy and society. In 1996 Chile joined the Mercosur Block as an associated country. Pinochet remained commander-in-chief of the armed forces (until 1998) and senator for life, which should protect him from court hearings. On a trip abroad to England in the same year, however, he was arrested on the basis of a Spanish extradition request. In January 2000, socialist Ricardo Lagos won the runoff for the presidency. The immunity of the dictator Pinochet was lifted in June, creating an important prerequisite for indictment. A question that deeply divided the country – with probably more than 3,000 political opponents murdered from 1973 to 1990.
In July 2002, the case against Pinochet was finally stopped for his mental dementia; Pinochet then resigned from office as a senator for life. He died in December 2006. In general, one can say that the democratization of the political system has succeeded; The constitutional reform of August 2005 put the end of this development. The criminal investigation into human rights violations by the military regime has resulted in a large number of convictions, for example by leading intelligence officials, in recent years – despite an amnesty decreed by the military in 1978.
In 2006 Michelle Bachelet, like Lagos socialist, was elected as the first woman to serve as president. In 2010 the entrepreneur Sebasti¨¢n Piñera won the presidential election. He was the first right-wing president after almost 20 years. Michelle Bachelet has been President again since March 2014.
In 2008 Chile, along with the other eleven independent states of South America, founded the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) based on the model of the European Union.