Chile is a nation in South America. It borders Peru and Bolivia to the north, and shares a long border with Argentina in the east. The capital and largest city of Chile is Santiago. Chile is the longest country in the world. The Spanish language is widely spoken, and Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion.
Chile was colonized by the Kingdom of Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries. Chile gained independence in the early 19th century. In the latter half of that century, Chile extended its borders to their modern length by annexing territory belonging to the Mapuche, a fierce Indian tribe in the south.
Like most South American nations, Chile was non-aligned during the Cold War. However, in 1973, Salvador Allende, a communist, was elected President. A U.S.-backed coup overthrew him, and Augusto Pinochet replaced him. Pinochet established a brutal dictatorship, and was kicked out in 1990.
Due to its great length and thin width, Chile has a highly varied climate. In the far north, the Atacama Desert is one of the most arid regions on earth. The southern part of Chile receives large amounts of rainfall, and the inner regions contain part of the snowy Andes.