Located on the western edge of South America, Chile is a densely populated country and home to as many as 18.05 million people. Unlike many other countries in Latin America, Chile has a relatively stable government, economy and society as a whole. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile are presented.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Chile
- Being one of the most stable governments in the region, Chile is the Representative Democratic Republic in which the president is elected by a majority vote with a 40 percent voter turnout as of 2017. Michelle Bachelet has been the president since 2014. According to the OECD, 60 percent of Chileans feel like they have a say in what the government does. For comparison, only 33 percent of Venezuelans feel like they have a say in their government’s actions.
- Chile has the lowest level of corruption in Latin America and the country has a score of 67 out of 100 on the International Corruption Index, the highest score out of all other countries in Latin America For comparison, Venezuela has a score of 18, lowest in the continent.
- Chile has an extremely stable economy. The GDP per capita stands at $24,000. The country earns $56.32 billion in exports and $56.86 billion in imports. China, the U.S. and Japan are Chile’s top three trading partners. The living cost for residents of Chile is very low, with an average of $939 of monthly living expenses.
- The Chilean government provides all citizens with access to free public health care through the Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA). However, hospitals tend to be overcrowded and urban areas such as the capital Santiago have better equipment than rural areas and smaller towns.
- Most Chileans have internet and telephone access. An estimated 73.9 percent of the population uses smartphones as of 2016, according to eMarketer. The Chilean government has recently implemented a tech visa allowing entrepreneurs to acquire a visa in just 15 days.
- The unemployment rate in Chile has dropped dramatically from 13.50 percent in 1986 to 6.7 percent in December 2018. The employment rate is at 55 percent and the average hourly wage is $7.27, which is also very high compared to Chile’s neighboring countries.
- Chilean women still struggle to attain equal rights. Although Chile has made progress in terms of electing a woman to the highest office in the country, women still earn about 25 percent less than men. In addition, Chilean women are encouraged to work caretaking jobs whereas men work industrial jobs such as engineering, electricity and construction. Ever since Michelle Bachelet has been in office, she has been working to advance women’s rights in Chile.
- According to UNICEF, 93.4 percent of males and 93.3 percent of females are enrolled in primary school, and overall, 98.9 percent of the youth in Chile are literate. A very high number or 86.4 percent of Chilean adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, though the graduation rate is decreasing, which could be due to economic factors such as needing to support their family at an earlier age.
- Over the last decade, climate change has damaged the quality of water in the country. Glaciers have acted as the main source of water supply to rivers, lakes and groundwater in dry regions, and warmer weather has caused glaciers to retreat. There has also been a decrease in ecosystems in Chile which has a negative effect on the quality and availability of drinking water.
- Since Chile is located on a tectonic plate boundary where there is a subduction zone, compressional deformation causes earthquakes and volcanoes. Frequent earthquakes wreck thousands of homes every year and damage the country’s infrastructure. In recent years, the Chilean government has been working to build earthquake-resistant buildings and have developed better modes of public communication to warn people of natural disasters.
These top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile show that compared to many other countries in Latin America, Chile is considered progressive in terms of technology, government, economics and living conditions. Countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador struggle in terms of overall living conditions due to corrupt governments and failing infrastructures. Chile is continuing to progress regardless of its hazardous geographical location and state of its surrounding countries.
– Sara Devoe