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Chile-Uniforms, Ranks, and Insignia

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Chile Index


Figure 17. Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1993


Figure 18. Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1993


The uniforms and insignia of the three services reflect mainly British and German influence but also United States influence. The German influence is predominant in the army's uniforms (which are gray) and insignia, whereas the navy's uniforms (which are blue) and insignia and the air force's uniforms (which are blue-gray) and insignia resemble those of their British and United States counterparts (see fig. 17; fig. 18).

The army's service and dress uniforms closely resemble those of the old German Imperial Army. The uniform of the cadet corps of the Military Academy still features a pickelhaube (tall, plumed headgear) of the type worn by the Kaiser's Imperial Guard. The gray service uniform, with its stand-and-fall collar buttoned to the neck, worn with a plastic replica of the German "coal-scuttle" helmet, also evokes memories of the Reichsheer (a German paramilitary force).

Army rank insignia that are based on a series of gold or silver stars on shoulder straps or shoulder plaits are used for ranks up to and including that of brigadier, an unusual transitory grade between that of colonel and brigadier general. According to the Santiago newspaper Hoy, the rank of brigadier did not exist before 1981, when the reformulation of Chile's army ranks went into effect. Under the new military rank structure, brigadier is not a rank but a category that is assigned to senior colonels, including those slated for promotion to general. Noncommissioned officers' rank insignia consist of combinations of chevrons, worn point downward as in the British Army. Although a brigadier has the rank of coronel and wears the three stars of a coronel on the shoulder boards, a brigadier wears a general's national coat of arms and laurel leaves on the collar. When the rank of brigadier was created, the names given to the generals were also changed, to include brigadier general (major general) and mayor general (lieutenant general). General officers wear rank insignia consisting of two to five gold or silver stars on shoulder boards similar to those used by general officers of the United States Army. A president may designate officers who remain on duty beyond the compulsory thirty-eight years with the category of lieutenant general, although it is not a rank. The rank of capitán general (captain general), the armed forces' highest rank (held by General Pinochet), is indicated by five stars.

In summer a white tunic is substituted for the gray one. Combat uniforms in olive-green, khaki-drab, or camouflage pattern, worn with the World War II-style United States M-1942 steel helmet, are virtually indistinguishable from those worn until the early 1980s by the United States Army. Mountain troops wear white coveralls when operating in the snow.

Data as of March 1994

BackgroundPrior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche Indians were completely subjugated. After a series of elected governments, a three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.
LocationSouthern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Area(sq km)total: 756,102 sq km
land: 743,812 sq km
water: 12,290 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez
Geographic coordinates30 00 S, 71 00 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 6,339 km
border countries: Argentina 5,308 km, Bolivia 860 km, Peru 171 km

Coastline(km)6,435 km

Climatetemperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m
Natural resourcescopper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 2.62%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.95% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)19,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)922 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 12.55 cu km/yr (11%/25%/64%)
per capita: 770 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardssevere earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis
Environment - current issueswidespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notestrategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); Atacama Desert is one of world's driest regions
Population16,601,707 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,966,017/female 1,877,963)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 5,625,963/female 5,628,146)
65 years and over: 9.1% (male 627,746/female 875,872) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 31.4 years
male: 30.4 years
female: 32.4 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.881% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)14.64 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)5.84 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)NA (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 88% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 7.71 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.49 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 77.34 years
male: 74.07 years
female: 80.77 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.92 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Chilean(s)
adjective: Chilean
Ethnic groups(%)white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)
Languages(%)Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Chile
conventional short form: Chile
local long form: Republica de Chile
local short form: Chile
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Santiago
geographic coordinates: 33 27 S, 70 40 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in October; ends second Sunday in March
Administrative divisions15 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Arica y Parinacota, Atacama, Biobio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Los Rios, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica
Constitution11 September 1980, effective 11 March 1981; amended 1989, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2005

Legal systembased on Code of 1857 derived from Spanish law and subsequent codes influenced by French and Austrian law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; note - in June 2005, Chile completed overhaul of its criminal justice system to a new, US-style adversarial system

Suffrage18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branchchief of state: President Michelle BACHELET Jeria (since 11 March 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Michelle BACHELET Jeria (since 11 March 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held 11 December 2005, with runoff election held 15 January 2006 (next to be held in December 2009)
election results: Michelle BACHELET Jeria elected president; percent of vote - Michelle BACHELET Jeria 53.5%; Sebastian PINERA Echenique 46.5%

Legislative branchbicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (38 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve eight-year terms; one-half elected every four years) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (120 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 11 December 2005 (next to be held in December 2009); Chamber of Deputies - last held 11 December 2005 (next to be held in December 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 20 (PDC 6, PS 8, PPD 3, PRSD 3), APC 17 (UDI 9, RN 8), independent 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 65 (PDC 21, PPD 22, PS 15, PRSD 7), APC 54 (UDI 34, RN 20), independent 1; note - as of 8 January 2008: Senate - seats by party - CPD 18, (PDC 5, PS 8, PPD 2, PRSD 3), APC 16 (UDI 9, RN 7), independent 4; Chamber of Deputies - seats by party - CPD 57 (PDC 16, PPD 19, PS 15, PRSD 7), APC 53 (UDI 33, RN 20), independent 10.

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are appointed by the president and ratified by the Senate from lists of candidates provided by the court itself; the president of the Supreme Court is elected every three years by the 20-member court); Constitutional Tribunal (eight-members - two each from the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, Supreme Court, and National Security Council - review the constitutionality of laws approved by Congress)

Political pressure groups and leadersRoman Catholic Church, particularly conservative groups such as Opus Dei; United Labor Central or CUT includes trade unionists from the country's five largest labor confederations
other: revitalized university student federations at all major universities
International organization participationAPEC, BIS, CAN (associate), FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OECD (accession state), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, SICA (observer), UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMOGIP, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptiontwo equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red represents the blood spilled to achieve independence
note: design was influenced by the US flag

Economy - overviewChile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade and a reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. Exports account for 40% of GDP, with commodities making up some three-quarters of total exports. Copper alone provides one-third of government revenue. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the situation in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. In the years since then, growth has averaged 4% per year. Chile deepened its longstanding commitment to trade liberalization with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004. Chile claims to have more bilateral or regional trade agreements than any other country. It has 57 such agreements (not all of them full free trade agreements), including with the European Union, Mercosur, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico. Over the past five years, foreign direct investment inflows have quadrupled to some $17 billion in 2008. The Chilean government conducts a rule-based countercyclical fiscal policy, accumulating surpluses in sovereign wealth funds during periods of high copper prices and economic growth, and allowing deficit spending only during periods of low copper prices and growth. As of September 2008, those sovereign wealth funds - kept mostly outside the country and separate from Central Bank reserves - amounted to more than $20 billion.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$245.1 billion (2008 est.)
$237.5 billion (2007 est.)
$226.8 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$169.5 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)3.2% (2008 est.)
4.7% (2007 est.)
4.6% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$14,900 (2008 est.)
$14,600 (2007 est.)
$14,000 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 4.8%
industry: 50.5%
services: 44.7% (2008 est.)
Labor force7.267 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 13.2%
industry: 23%
services: 63.9% (2005)
Unemployment rate(%)7.8% (2008 est.)
7% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)18.2% (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 41.7% (2006)
Distribution of family income - Gini index54.9 (2003)
57.1 (2000)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)24% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $44.79 billion
expenditures: $35.09 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)8.7% (2008 est.)
4.4% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$14.72 billion (31 December 2008)
$16.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$73.66 billion (31 December 2008)
$80.42 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$116.4 billion (31 December 2008)
$127.1 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$132.4 billion (31 December 2008)
$212.9 billion (31 December 2007)
$174.6 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$0 (2006)

Public debt(% of GDP)5.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
12.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsgrapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans; beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber
Industriescopper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles

Industrial production growth rate(%)0.7% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$3.44 billion (2008 est.)
$7.189 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$66.46 billion (2008 est.)
$67.67 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, wine
Exports - partners(%)China 14.2%, US 11.3%, Japan 10.4%, Brazil 5.9%, South Korea 5.7%, Netherlands 5.2%, Italy 4.4% (2008)
Imports$57.61 billion (2008 est.)
$44.03 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas
Imports - partners(%)US 19.1%, China 11.9%, Brazil 9.3%, Argentina 8.8%, South Korea 5.6%, Japan 4.6% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$23.08 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$16.84 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$64.77 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$55.67 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$108.3 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$91.49 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$25.7 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$24.68 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesChilean pesos (CLP) per US dollar - 509.02 (2008 est.), 526.25 (2007), 530.29 (2006), 560.09 (2005), 609.37 (2004)

Currency (code)Chilean peso (CLP)

Telephones - main lines in use3.526 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular14.797 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: privatization begun in 1988; most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in South America; modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities; fixed-line connections have dropped in recent years as mobile-cellular usage continues to increase, reaching a level of 90 telephones per 100 persons
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations
international: country code - 56; submarine cables provide links to the US and to Central and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.cl
Internet users5.456 million (2008)
Airports357 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 2,676 km; liquid petroleum gas 519 km; oil 892 km; refined products 769 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 80,505 km
paved: 16,745 km (includes 2,414 km of expressways)
unpaved: 63,760 km (2004)

Ports and terminalsCoronel, Huasco, Lirquen, Puerto Ventanas, San Antonio, San Vicente, Valparaiso
Military branchesArmy of the Nation, Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile, includes naval air, marine corps, and Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine Directorate (Directemar)), Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Chile, FACh), Carabineros Corps (Cuerpo de Carabineros) (2008)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-45 years of age for voluntary male and female military service, although the right to compulsory recruitment is retained; service obligation - 12 months for Army, 22 months for Navy and Air Force (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,242,912
females age 16-49: 4,182,509 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,573,165
females age 16-49: 3,523,649 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 145,766
female: 139,648 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.7% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalChile and Peru rebuff Bolivia's reinvigorated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, but Chile has offered instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile to Bolivian gas and other commodities; Chile rejects Peru's unilateral legislation to change its latitudinal maritime boundary with Chile to an equidistance line with a southwestern axis favoring Peru, in October 2007, Peru took its maritime complaint with Chile to the ICJ; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001, has yet to map and demarcate the delimited boundary in the inhospitable Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur)

Electricity - production(kWh)60.6 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 47%
hydro: 51.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)57.29 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)1.628 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)11,190 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)277,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)49,250 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)311,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)150 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)1.65 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)2.34 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)97.97 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.3% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS31,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,100 (2007 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 95.8%
female: 95.6% (2002 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.2% of GDP (2006)

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