Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country with a long yet narrow strip of land that sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains with a total area of 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 square miles), making it the 38th largest country by area.
The last official census took place in Chile back in 2002, which placed the population at 15.1 million. The official 2012 estimate placed Chile's population at 17.4 million.
Chile's population has grown steadily over the past 60 years, rising from only 6 million in 1950 to almost triple that number -- more than 18 million people now call Chile home. From 1960 to 2012, Chile's population grew 127%, and now represents 0.25% of the world's population. That means 1 in 404 people on earth is a Chilean resident.
It is one of the most prosperous and stable in the region, leading Latin America in income per capita, human development, globalization, and low corruption perception.
Chile is a very multiethnic society, although studies on the country's ethnic structure vary a great deal. One study found that 30% of Chile's population is of Caucasian origin. A genetic study by the University of Chile found that the average Chilean's genes are 35% Amerindian and 64% Caucasian.
Many Chileans self-identify as white, and the 2011 Latinobarometro survey found that 59% of surveyed Chileans considered themselves white, while 25% answered "mestizo" and 8% answered "indigenous."
Chile has had relatively little European immigration over the years, although it has had waves of Spanish and non-Spanish immigrants, such as Germans, Italians, Irish and French.
It's also estimated that 5% of Chile's population is descended from Asian immigrants, mostly from the Middle East. The East Asian population of Chile has grown recently, and there is a fairly large population of Roma people.
Chile Religion, Economy and Politics
The majority of Chileans practice some form of Christianity, 54% of the total population and Roman Catholic, and 14% are Protestant. The remaining 32% of people, a fairly large proportion compared to many countries, are religiously unaffiliated.
Since the turn of the 21st century, the economy has been doing well in Chile, significantly improving the lives of its citizens. It is so stable, in fact, that it is considered South America's most prosperous and stable nation. Chile's main business sectors are agriculture and mining, as well as service industries like finance and tourism. Chile has also flourished due to its strong commitment to free trade and by gaining many foreign investors.
Chile Population History
At the 2002 census, it was confirmed that there were 15,116,435 people living in South America's longest and thinnest country. It was suggested at the time that the population of Chile was in severe decline due to an alarming fall in the birth rate. However, that suggestion is at odds with the latest estimate from the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (Chile's National Statistics Institute), which claimed that Chile's population in 2011 had grown to 17,248,450.