Chile: Historical Overview                                         

For more in depth history of Chile navigate your way through different time periods here (scroll to Chile and click the down arrow to start)!

10,000 years ago

There is archaeological evidence that Native Peoples lived in Chile at least 10,000 years ago.


The Inca Empire lasted just under of 100 years. The Inca ruler Pachacuti and his army conquered lands surrounding the Inca heartland of Cuzco, until the coming of the Spaniards in 1532. The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the Mapuche (also known as the Araucanians) successfully resisted many attempts by the Inca Empire. The result of the bloody three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the territories of Chile ended at the Maule river (map). So for some time, northern Chile belonged to the Inca and central and southern Chile to the Mapuche.

Circa 1536

The Arauco War between the Mapuche and the colonial Spaniards begins.


Pedro de Valdivia (image) arrived in Chile from Spain via Peru serving under Fransicso Pizarro. This began the period of Spanish conquest of land, founding of cities, and establishment of the Kingdom of Chile. In 1541, he founded Santiago and became the First Royal Governor of Chile.


Chile declared its independence from Spain although decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818.


In the War of the Pacific, Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions.


The Mapuche native people had become completely subjugated by the European colonists.

July 9th and 10th, 1882

During the Sierra Campaign of the War of the Pacific, a small town in the Andes Mountains called Concepción was the site of the Battle of La Concepción between Peru and Chile. The Peruvian army of 1,300 prevailed over the 77 Chileans.


After a series of elected governments, a three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet.


Pinochet's military regime ruled for 17 years until the freely elected president Patricio Aylwin was installed.


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 confirming its status as a stable, democratic nation.