Chile's economy is based on the export of minerals, which account for about half of the total value of exports. Copper is the nation's most valuable resource, and Chile is the world's largest producer. Agriculture is the main occupation of about 15% of the population; it accounts for about 6% of the national wealth, and produces less than half of the domestic needs. The Vale of Chile is the country's primary agricultural area; its vineyards are the basis of Chile's wine industry. Grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, and beans are the chief crops. Livestock production includes beef and poultry. Sheep raising is the chief pastoral occupation, providing wool and meat for domestic use and for export. Fishing and lumbering are also important economic activities. Chile's industries largely process its raw materials and manufacture various consumer goods. The major products are copper and other minerals, processed food, fish meal, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transportation equipment, and textiles.
The dependence of the economy on copper prices and the production of an adequate food supply are two of Chile's major economic problems. Chile's main imports are petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, and natural gas, but beginning in the 2010s it sought to reduce its need for imported fossil fuels by developing solar, wind, and geothermal energy projects. In addition to minerals, it also exports fruit, fish and fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, and wine. The chief trading partners are the United States, China, Brazil, Argentina, and South Korea.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Political Geography