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Chile: Some Economic Data as of 1970

Length—2,600 miles

Width—110 at widest


 POPULATION                                               IN PERCENTAGES





























Socio-Economic Setting

              Minerals furnish close to 80% of Chile's exports. Nitrate and copper were the most important minerals and exports. Iron and manganese were also important. Nitrates account for 74% of the value of non-metallic minerals. Chile had 30% of world's copper reserves and Chile contributed 25% of the world's production. Anaconda Copper Company (US) had owned the Chuquicamata and El Salvador mines and derived two-thirds of its world production from these. Braden, a subsidiary of Kennecott Copper, owned the El Teniente mine. These three turn out 85% of Chile's production. President Eduardo Frei (1964-70) began the Chileanization of these mines, buying out a majority share.

              Iron ore goes to Huachipato steel mill near Concepción.

              Oil is found in the Straits of Magellan area.

              Chile is poor in coal, but partly because having difficulty in exploiting coal in the Magallanes area.

              Forests cover 22% of Chile.

Agrarian Question

              Chile has near 8.7 million people today and enough arable land to sustain this population. Thirty per cent of the economically active population depended upon land for livelihood. There was a high inequality in land ownership. Agriculture had failed to fulfill its role in economy; only contributed 12% to GNP. Stagnation of agriculture and livestock. Productivity per worker was the lowest in the economy and declined 20% from 1952 to 1962. There were a lack of incentives for the worker, low technological levels , and under-utilization of labor in some small holdings, all contributing to low yields.

              The large estate or fundo was still the prevailing landholding system in Chile. Large properties were concentrated in central Chile near Santiago-Valparaíso and small properties in South. In central Chile, they grow fruits, wines, and truck garden products, which permit intense cultivation with high productivity per land unit while in the south wheat, rye, and other cereals are grown which require extensive acreage for greater productivity. Large landholdings constitutes 62.8% of all farm land but only 1.4% of all holdings. Thirty-seven percent of the farm units, containing less than five hectares each (approximately 2.5 acres=hectare), occupy only 0.3% of the agricultural area. In central Chile, land concentration is even higher.

               Only the Christian Democrats and FRAP consistently spoke to the land problem or tried to do anything about it. One approach had been opening new lands and using colonization. In recent years, the population has increased 1.8% and food production 1.6% annually.

              Agriculture employs 27% of labor force but contributes only 12% of GNP (1960). Chile has to import food.


Agricultural wages are low. Migrant workers (afuerinos) receive the lowest pay in the country, US 30-40 cents daily in cash and benefits. Inquilinos (tenant farmers) earn about 60 cents daily. The 1954 per capita income in Chile was US $150 while for US was $1,845. This is misleading in some ways because prices differ, but perhaps useful for comparative purposes. Chilean farm labor receives only 11% of national income. 


              In the period 1952-1957, the price of rice rose from 22 to 78 pesos a kilogram, sugar from 8 to 85 pesos, meat from 50 to 500 pesos, and an ordinary man's suit from 3,000 to 21,000 pesos. Salary levels: (1957) unskilled worker -15,000 pesos monthly which equaled about $24 at that year's exchange rate. A white-collar employee averaged 50,000 pesos. Prices rose only 17% in 1957 but over 30% in 1958. In 1962 the cost of living increased 28% and in 1963 increased 45%.