Chile's 13.4 million ( 1992) people are concentrated along a 757,000 km2 narrow strip on the southwestern coast of South America. While Chile has one of the highest urbanization rates in the region, its population density is the lowest in Latin America. During the period 1980-1992, the population growth rate in Chile was less than 2 percent, below the average for the region.
Chile is considered one of the newly industrialized countries (NICs) of Latin America. During the period 1989-1993, the annual growth rate of real GDP in Chile averaged over 7 percent a year, the highest among Latin American countries. 1 Chile's external debt management remains a model for the rest of Latin America. Although its current external debt is US$19 billion, the government has met all of its financial obligations in a timely manner. Its successful debt/equity swap program coupled with increased export earnings have slowed down the increasing rate of the country's foreign debt. 2 In 1993 the inflation rate was 12.7 percent, lower than the 15.4 percent recorded in 1992.
A decreasing demand for imports and growing export earnings have helped to maintain a surplus balance in Chile's trade, which reached $749 million for the year 1992. While its traditional exports include primary minerals (mainly copper), fruit, fish, and forestry products, the government is trying to promote the export of items with a greater value added, such as alloys, printing papers, canned goods, and wine, as well as industrial chemicals and machinery. Its principal trading partners are the United States, Japan, Brazil, and Germany. Chile's trade legislation is among the most liberal in Latin America, and the current free-trade negotiations with the United States aim at lowering all trade barriers.
Chile is not well endowed with resources to meet its energy demand, and most of its resources are located in the remote far southern region, away from