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Chili, or Chile. Geography. The Chilian territory, containing an area of 300,000 miles, extends from the summit, of the Andes on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west, and from the Camarones river on the north to Cape Horn, the limit of the South American continent, being in this portion separated from Argentina by an imaginary line that runs from Mount Aymon to Cape Virgin and from this cape directly south to the ocean.

The country is a narrow strip of land principally consisting of the rugged western skirts of the lofty Cordillera, which is intersected by a great number of rivers of violent current, with fertile valleys; it is remarkable for a great diversity of climate according to the degree of latitude and the height of the land, and for the variety of its geological and topographical conditions.

Geographers distinguish four zones in Chili: - The northern or mineral zone, which comprises the province of Atacama (immensely rich in silver), Coquimbo (rich in copper), and the territories of Antofagasta and Tarapaca, famous for the saltpetre, borax, and gypsum, which they produce to an enormous extent. The second, or agricultural zone, is formed of a great central plain, or succession of valleys, which seem to be the basins of emptied lakes, situated between the Andes and a parallel range; this zone comprises the provinces of Valparaiso, Aconcagua, Santiago, Colchagua, Talca, Maule, Nuble, Linares, and Concepcion; it produces many cereals and rich wine. Araucania, the third zone, that extends from the Bio-Bio to the Tolten rivers, is the most beautiful part of Chili, and the home of 30,000 indomitable Indians, famous in history and Spanish poetry on account of their great valour; but now from the north and the south Araucania is being peopled by the white man, and the Indians are doomed to submission, or to emigration across the mountain gorges to the deserts of Argentina. The fourth zone is a wild and very picturesque region of lakes.

The name Chili signifies cold in the native Peruvian language; the ancient Incas, in giving the name, referred to the eternal snows of the mountain peaks; but the climate is generally temperate and so healthy that no epidemics have ever been known in the country except small-pox. It is worthy of note that in Chili there is an absolute lack of ferocious animals and of poisonous insects of any class.

Several violent earthquakes have shaken Chili, from the Spanish conquest to the end of the last century, but recently they have not been severe, excepting that of 1822, which destroyed Valparaiso, and that of 1835, Concepcion. There are about 70 volcanoes in the Chilian Cordillera; the highest are the Aconcagua (22,418 feet) and the Tupungato (21,660 feet). Off the const there are many islands and archipelagoes. The largest island is Chiloe. Juan Fernandez island was the scene of the solitary life of Alexander Selkirk, the prototype of Robinson Crusoe.

The population of Chili is 2,700,000. The capital, Santiago, has about 250,000 and Valparaiso 122,000. Two-thirds of the population live in the rural districts. The Chilian is of pure Spanish descent or of Spanish blood mixed with Araucanian, a race that in vigour of body and of character can compete in work and war, on land and sea, with the best in the world.

The political constitution is very much like that of the United States, but the spirit of unity is much stronger. The civil laws are codified. The educational system resembles that of France; 70,000 children, boys and girls, attend the public schools, and 18,000 private ones.

The army is small, about 3,000 men, the national guard numbers about 430,000, The forts are well fortified. The navy is the finest in South America.

The merchant marine, principally coasting and whaling, is growing steadily. Commerce is very prosperous. The largest import trade is with England. The industries are chiefly agricultural and mining. They are very extensive and are increasing.

History. Don Diego de Almagro was the first conquistador. He conquered Chili in 1536; he was one of Pizarro's lieutenants, and quarrelled with his chief on account of the distribution of treasure plundered in the conquest of Peru. Almagro had been preceded by a Spanish deserter in Chili, called Barrientos, who taught the Indians how to fight the Spaniards. After much suffering and hard fighting Almagro returned to Cuzco, where he was beheaded. Pizarro then sent a daring young officer called Pedro de Valdivia with 140 soldiers to explore and conquer the country, which he did as far as Valdivia (1541), where he founded that city, as well as those of Serena, Valparaiso, Concepcion, and seven more in Araucania, but all of them were soon destroyed by the brave Araucanians, who also killed Valdivia himself in 1553.

The colony was ruined, and other conquistadores were sent in the next century by Spain, who succeeded in conquering the country, only at the expense of millions of money and hundreds of thousands of soldiers. In the seventeenth century the colony suffered intensely on account of pirates, earthquakes, and droughts, and was abandoned again until the eighteenth century, when liberal concessions were made by the Crown of Spain to strong, honest, hard-working people of Biscay, who quickly raised the land to prosperity. Many distinguished men were produced in that period, who rose against, the government of the mother country, declaring the independence of Chili. A Spanish army from Peru reconquered the colony, but General San Martin, the Argentine patriot, crossed the Andes, and in the splendid victories of Chacabuco and Maipo destroyed the Spaniards. Lord Cochrane was the admiral of the Chilian ships, assisted by the young and brave Blanco Encalada. O'Higgins was the first dictator of the country, but in 1823 he was overthrown. From that time political matters were very unsettled until 1830, when, after the battle of Lircai, Prieto was named constitutional president. The country was governed in peace until the war with Peru and Bolivia, in which Chili was victorious (1839). Thenceforward, under the Constitution, Chili distinguished itself above all the South American states in the enjoyment of an excellent, though rather oligarchical, government. In 1865 Chili assisted Peru in her war against Spain, and Valparaiso was bombarded by the Spanish fleet. In 1879 the Republic was engaged in another long war with Peru and Bolivia, which resulted in the conquest of the territories of Antofagasta and Tarapaca, after bloody battles on sea and land, of which Miraflores, the decisive one, is well worthy of mention.

In 1891 a civil war was produced by the conduct of President Balmaceda, who assumed powers which Congress deemed unconstitutional. Balmaceda, however, was defeated and committed suicide, and the Congressional party, after a hard struggle, triumphed, and restored the republic to peace and prosperity.