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Chile’s territory is located in South America, the Antarctic and in the Pacific Ocean, which accounts for its great geologic, climatic and biological diversity. For geographic reasons, Chile is separated from the rest of South America: to the north by the Atacama desert (the world’s most arid desert); to the East, the Andes mountain range; to the West, the Pacific Ocean; and to the South, the Antarctic ice caps. This geographic isolation and the fact that it spans over 40° latitude from its northernmost to southernmost points bestow upon Chile very peculiar climatic characteristics, since Chile contains subtropical climates as well as sub-Antarctic and Antarctic climates.

Chile’s continental territory is located between 17º30' y 56º30' latitude south, on the western edge of South America. The total surface area is 2,006,096 square kilometers, of which 756,096 square kilometers correspond to continental Chile and its ocean territories and 1,250,000 km 2 to the Chilean Antarctic Territory. Continental Chile spans 4,300 kilometers from north to south. The average east-west distance is 232.5 km, making Chile the longest and narrowest country in the world. (Figure 4.1).

Its coastal waters cover approximately 120,000 sq. kilometers (not including its Antarctic territory). Chile’s territorial sea places Chile among the countries with the most extensive ocean territory with some 3,150,000 sq. kilometers. Furthermore, the State of Chile has sovereign rights over the Exclusive Economic Area (200 nautical miles) for the use, exploration, conservation and administration of the natural resources of the sea-bed and subsoil and the underlying waters.

Chile is divided into 13 administrative regions, from the First Region of Tarapacá in the north to the Twelfth Region of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic in the south. The great length of the country, the natural barriers formed by the mountain ranges and by the subtropical ocean currents in the north and the polar currents in the south provide Chile with its great biological and climatic diversity that can be seen not just from north to south but also from east to west.

The estimated population of Chile in 1998 was 14,821,714, with an average annual growth rate of 1.4%.

Chile has submitted one National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in February 2000. The Communication established the National GHG Inventory with 1994 as its base year, including agriculture, land-use change and forestry; it also includes climate vulnerability scenarios for agriculture, water and forestry for the future 40 years as well as vulnerability studies and adaptation and mitigation measures to climate change in the farm, forestry and water sector. It also provides a brief description of the institutions involved in climate change related topics as well as future measures to be taken to improve agricultural and forestry practices.

A Second National Communication is under preparation and scheduled to be submitted by 2010. It will contain a revised national GHG inventory, vulnerability studies, strategies and measures for regional and sectoral adaptation and formulation of policies for the development and implementation of adaptation strategies.

In 2006, the Executive Council of the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA, Spanish acronym) approved the National Climate Change Strategy. The Strategy allows for a more coordinated, multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach to climate change and consists of three components: adaptation to climate change impacts, mitigation of GHG emissions and creation and fostering of climate change capacity.

Additionally, the Climate Change and Agriculture Council was created in May 2008 under the wing of the Ministry of Agriculture and is comprised of professionals from the academic, private and public sector. Its main objective is to design Chile’s response to the effects of global climate change by delineating the actions to be considered in an adaptation program to climate change in the agricultural sector, as well as the main mitigation measures to be considered in the same sector.

Among other analytical work being undertaken in the context of adaptation is: 1) “Socioeconomic assessment of climate change impact on the agricultural and forestry sector” by the Agricultural Economics Department of the Catholic University of Chile for ODEPA; 2) Studies to identify measures and climate change adaptation projects in the agricultural and forestry sector in Chile suitable for family agriculture, by INIA for FIA; 3) Develop a system for managing agro-climatic risks and agricultural emergencies, jointly developed with FAO; 4) Put in place a Program for Genetic Improvement for the development of agricultural and forestry varieties adapted to climate change (INIA and INFOR); 5) Program for efficient water use in agriculture (National Commission on Irrigation, (CNR, Spanish acronym).

Source: World Bank Country Notes on Climate Change Aspects in Agriculture. Accessed on: 24 May 2010 at,,contentMDK:22077094~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258554,00.html

For additional information and for the complete Chile - Country Note on Climate Change Aspects in Agriculture refer to the World Bank Country Notes here.

The Country Notes are a useful tool for organizing in a systematic way the available information on climate change and agriculture in each country. They provide a brief summary of information pertinent to both climate change and agriculture in 19 countries in LAC, with focus on policy developments (action plans and programs), institutional make-up, specific adaptation and mitigation strategies, as well as social aspects and insurance mechanisms to address risk in the sector.