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April 2015

Chile - Physiography

Chile - Physiography

On April 22, 2015 the Calbuco volcano erupted, roughly 1000km south of Chile's capital Santiago. The volcano is in the Los Lagos region of Chile in the province of Llanquihue on the bank of Lake Llanquihue. The nearest sizable center of population is Puerto Montt. Prior to this eruption, the volcano's last activity consisted of 4 hours of a weak fumarole type eruption in 1972.

Chile is slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana; its terrain consists of low coastal mountains, a fertile central valley, and the rugged Andes mountains in the east. The country's climate ranges from temperate, to desert (in the north), to Mediterranean in the central region, with cool and damp zones in the south. The elevation ranges from 0 m along the Pacific Ocean to 6880 m at Nevado Ojos del Salado.

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the Inca ruled northern Chile while the Mapuche controlled central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. After a series of elected governments, the three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled until 1990. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation. In January 2014, Chile assumed a two-year nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The natural resources of Chile include: copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, and hydropower. Natural hazards facing Chile include: severe earthquakes, active volcanism, and tsunamis. For more information concerning volcanism, visit the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program site.

Smithsonian Instituion; CIA World Factbook, 4/2015; 4/2015

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