Chile is a country located along the west coast of South America. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes mountain range and Argentina to the east, Peru and Bolivia to the north and northeast, and by the Drake Passage to the south.

Population estimate (2019): 18,284,593

Capital City: Santiago

Currency used: Chilean Peso

Gross National Income per capita (2013) (PPP international $): 21,030

Time zone: GMT – 3 (Santiago)

Population growth rate (2019): 0.77%

Total fertility rate per woman: 1.80

Languages: Spanish, English, several indigenous languages, German is commonly spoken as a second language in the southern part of the country.

Key ethnic groups: 95.4% European and Mestizo, 4% Mapuche, 0.7% Aymara and other indigenous minorities.  

Religion: 66.4% Roman Catholic, 16.4% Evangelical or Protestant, 11.5% no religious affiliation, 3.4% other, 1% Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Literacy: 97.5%

Climate: Chile has several types of diverse climates; desert-like in the north, Mediterranean in the central region, cold in the Andes range and maritime in the south. As it is located in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed compared to the Northern Hemisphere (summer from December to February and winter from June to August). In the dry desert area of the north temperatures can range from -2 to 32ºc. The central region is characterised by an almost Mediterranean climate with hot and sunny summers and mild and rainy winters. In the Andean region temperatures can range from -6 to 4ºc. The south is cool and rainy, heavy rainfall occurs especially from May to August.

Health statistics:

Life expectancy at birth (2016): 76/82 (male/female)

Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years: 114/60 (per 1000 population, 2016)

Total expenditure on health per capita (2014): $1,749

Number of doctors per 1000 population (2009): 1.024

Nursing and midwifery personnel density (per 1000 population, 2009): 0.144

Neonatal mortality rate (per 1000 live births, 2015): 4.9 [3.5-6.6]

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100.000 live births, 2015): 22 [18-26]

Births attended by skilled health personnel (2013): 99.8%

Top 10 causes of death:

Coronary heart disease: 11,770 people / 13.83% of total

Stroke: 9,514 / 11.18%

Influenza & pneumonia: 4,951 / 5.82%

Diabetes mellitus: 4,367 / 5.13%

Alzheimers/Dementia: 3,963 / 4.66%

Lung disease: 3,667 / 4.31%

Stomach cancer: 3,656 / 4.30%

Lung cancers: 3,094 / 3.64%

Hypertension: 3,055 / 3.59%

Liver disease: 2,752 / 3.23%

Healthcare system

The healthcare system in Chile comprises a public and private sector. The public sector offers Chilean nationals and legal residents (local taxpayers) access to free public healthcare through the health insurance scheme FONASA, which also offers subsidised access to private healthcare. The scheme is funded by a deduction in employees’ monthly salaries. It is estimated that the scheme currently covers 77% of the population; 5% are without any type of healthcare insurance; 3% covered by the Ministry of Defence; and 16% are covered by private health insurances. Public facilities and hospitals offer a decent quality of care, but are often crowded, and the standards tend to vary regionally. The most modern and well-equipped facilities are located in Santiago and other larger urban areas.

The private sector generally offers a higher standard in terms of equipment and care, and there are several large private health insurance providers. Some Chilean private hospitals have training and research arrangements with large foreign medical centres.

Most physicians working in both public and private facilities are highly trained, many received training abroad and are able to speak English. Often physicians specialise in specific areas of medicine, and the concept of General Practitioners is not very common in Chile.