Chile History

According to Neovideogames, Chile has a common prehistory and early history with other South American countries (South America).

Colonial times

The conquest of Chile by the Spanish started after the destruction of the Inca Empire (Inca) and the occupation of the present Peru. After an – in terms of the discovery of rich gold deposits – unsuccessful expedition (1535-37) under D. de Almagro, P. de Valdivia began in 1540 with the conquest of the territory of today’s Chile. He founded Santiago de Chile in 1541 and extended Spanish rule to the Bío-Bío River in southern Chile. Beyond this limit claimed the Araucans its independence by the end of the 18th century. After the gold deposits discovered near Santiago were quickly exhausted, Chile attracted few Spanish settlers. Their economic activities were limited to agriculture, urban commerce and trade with the Peruvian mining centers. Chile was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1798. However, due to the Real Audiencia (highest court of appeal in the colonies, established 1567-74 in Concepción, transferred to Santiago from 1606) and the status of a general captainate, it had its own jurisdiction and its own political, administrative and military authorities.


The aspirations for independence of the Hispanic American colonies spread to Chile from 1810 onwards. The local elites forced the resignation of the captain general and formed a government junta on September 18, 1810. The radical insurgents under the leadership of J. M. Carrera Verdugo , striving for complete independence from Spain, conquered power by force of arms. As a result of internal conflicts, the Spanish rulers again gained the upper hand in 1814-17. Only with the army composed of Argentine and Chilean independence fighters under General J. de San Martín and after the victories at Chacabuco (February 12th, 1817) and Maipó (April 5th, 1818) the final separation from Spain could be accomplished (declaration of independence: February 12th, 1818). In 1826 the Spaniards were expelled from their last base on the island of Chiloé.

The liberal republic and the territorial expansion phase

In 1865/66 Chile was embroiled in a war with Spain due to its attitude towards the Spanish-Peruvian clashes, in the course of which the Spanish fleet bombarded the port city of Valparaíso. After the border in the south of the country had been secured in protracted battles with the Araucans in the 1860s and 70s, Chile won the northern provinces of Tarapacá and Arica (of Peru) as well as the entire Bolivian in the Pacific War of 1879-83 (Saltpeter War) Antofagasta province encompassing the coastal area. Chile thus had rich copper deposits as well as the world monopoly for saltpeter, the export duties of which became the main source of income for the state.

With the economic boom, the political ideas of liberalism gained a larger following. Successful representatives from trade and industry ousted the conservative rural oligarchy from power and pushed through liberal reforms. Under President Domingo S. M. González (* 1825, † 1889; 1881–86) reform policy – including fierce battles with the Church – reached its climax (including the introduction of civil marriage); after the implementation of the measures, however, the unity of the liberal party broke up. President J. M. Balmaceda Fernández (1886–91) settled the dispute with the Church and diplomatic relations with Rome were resumed. However, due to his authoritarian leadership style, the president came into conflict with Congress, which declared him deposed in 1891. The legislature was strengthened by the victory of the congress troops in the ensuing civil war. The previously strong presidentialism had to give way to a parliamentary republic until the dissolution of the Congress in 1925. The borders with Argentina were laid down in the Pacto de Mayo in 1902; In 1904 the peace treaty with Bolivia was signed.

The democratization process up to the 2005 constitutional amendment

In a second referendum (1989), numerous constitutional amendments (including shortening the president’s term of office from 8 to 6 years and abolishing his right to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies) were approved. On December 14th, 1989,Fr. Aylwin Azócar was elected as the new president as a candidate from a 17-party alliance (took office in March 1990). Although his room for maneuver was restricted by the military, the democratic structures were consolidated during his term of office. With the report of the national “Commission of Truth and Reconciliation” on the human rights violations during General Pinochet’s term of office began in April 1990 to come to terms with 17 years of dictatorship, but without naming those responsible. With economic growth and a decline in inflation due to neoliberal structural reforms, the social situation of the lower classes gradually improved.

Frei Ruiz-Tagle (PDC, took office in March 1994) won the presidential elections in 1993. The economy stabilized further under his government. The expansion of the infrastructure and the integration of the economy into the world market by means of the liberalization of trade as well as the financial and capital market were promoted. In 1999/2000 the border disputes with Peru from the Treaty of Lima (1929), a consequence of the Pacific War at the end of the 19th century, were finally resolved. Neither pinochets Precautions (including appointing himself a senator for life in 1998), the power of the military and the amnesty laws prevented the victims of the dictatorship, the public and the judiciary from making progress in coming to terms with human rights violations by the military and the secret service. With the arrest of the former dictator in Great Britain in October 1998 and the subsequent tug-of-war over his extradition to the Spanish judiciary, the deep contradictions in Chilean society became apparent.

The 1999 presidential elections were won in the second round by the candidate of the center-left alliance (PDC, PPD, PS, PRSD), R. Lagos Escobar . This was the first time since the 1973 coup that a politician from a socialist party (PPD) held the highest office in the state. Since his inauguration on March 11, 2000, the political agenda of President Lagos has been shaped by the problems of coming to terms with human rights violations during the military dictatorship. The effort of legal proceedings against those responsible from the secret service and the military was at the forefront of the victims’ efforts for justice. There were judgments to be assessed as precedents (with regard to punishment and compensation). The Lagosgovernment accelerated the search for the “disappeared” of the military dictatorship. According to the report submitted in December 2004 by the Commission on Coming to terms with the Torture Practice of the Military Dictatorship, 27,255 people were recorded. Meanwhile, representatives of the armed forces also admitted that torture was an institutionalized policy under the Pinochet government. Proceedings directly affecting Pinochet (including “Caravana de la Muerte”, “Operación Condor”, alleged corruption and manipulation of foreign accounts) failed because of his inability to litigate.

Changes to the constitution (including the abolition of the senators-designate or the senators for life, shortening the term of office of the president to 4 years, strengthening the control rights of the Chamber of Deputies) and the divorce law were passed by Congress after years of blockade. The constitutional amendments came into force on September 17, 2005.

Chile History

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