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Present-day Chile is originally populated by Arauca Indians. From 1536 to 1540 on major parts of the area are occupied by Spain and incorporated in the Vice-Royality of Peru. Under the name Captaincy-General of Chile the area becomes in 1778 a seperate dependency. In 1810 Chile declares itself independent, but Spain recaptures Chile in 1814. In 1818 Chile finally gains independence in 1818 as the State of Chile, renamed Republic of Chile in 1826. The first president is Bernardo O'Higgins. During most of the nineteenth century Chile is governed by an oligarchy of landowners. The political revolt brings little social change and 19th century Chilean society preserves the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which is greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. The system of presidential absolutism eventually predominates, but wealthy landowners continu to control Chile. Since 1871 Chile gets an alternation in power and presidents of the Partido Liberal (Liberal Party, PL) are installed. The liberals are in power until 1891. That year the military grabs power.

Federico Errázuriz Echaurren click on the image to enlarge
Liberal rule is restored in 1896 and Chile becomes more or less a parliamentary democratic republic. It is said that it degenerates into a system protecting the interests of the ruling oligarchy. Presidents are Federico Errázuriz Echaurren (1896-1901) of the PL and Germán Riesco Errázuriz (1901-1906) of the Alianza Liberal (Liberal Alliance, AL). In 1906 Pedro Montt Montt of the Partido Nacional (National Party, PN) is elected. He dies in 1910. After two acting presidents, Ramón Barros Luco of the AL becomes president. He is succeeded in 1915 by Juan Luis Sanfuentes Andonaegu of the Partido Liberal Democrático (Liberal Democratic Party, PLD). In 1920 Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma of the PL is elected.

Emiliano Figueroa Larraín click on the image to enlarge
Alessandri's rule is hortly interupted by a military government, but in 1925 he is succeeded by Emiliano Figueroa Larraín. Continuing political and economic instability results under the rule of the quasidictatorial Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1924-31). After some interim presidencies Arturo Alessandri Palma becomes president again in 1932. A strong middle-class party, the Partido Radical (Radical Party, PR), emerges. It becomes the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. In 1938 Pedro Abelino Aguirre Cerda of the PR becomes president in a coalition of the left. He is succeeded in 1942 by the Radical Juan Antonio Ríos Morales. In 1946 his co-partisan Gabriel González Videla is elected president.

Carlos Ibáñez del Campo click on the image to enlarge
In the first two years of the government of Videla three communists are ministers, but in 1948 Gonzáles bans the communist party, He is succeeded in 1952 by former dictator Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, mainly supported by the nationalist Partido Agrario Laborista (Agrarian Labour Party, PAL), but also by far left-wing parties like the Partido Socialista Popular (Popular Socialist Party, PSP). The elections of 1958 are won by Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez of the Partido Liberal (Liberal Party, PL). In 1964 the christian-democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva of the Partido Democrata Cristiana (Christian Democratic Party, PDC) is elected president. He is succeeded in 1970 by the marxist Salvador Allende Gossens, the candidate of the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity, UP) of which his Partido Socialista (Socialist Party, PS) is part.

Augusto Pinochet click on the image to enlarge
In 1973 the army stages a coup against the marxist government and Chile becomes a military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, who becomes president in 1974. All political parties are forbidden.

Patricio Aylwin Azócar click on the image to enlarge

In 1990 the presidential parliamentary democracy is restored, though the old regime arranges for some constitutional guarantees for their position. Patricio Aylwin Azócar of the PDC, supported by the parties of the Concertacíon de los Partidos por la Democracia (Coalition of Parties for Democracy, CPD) wins the 1989 elections, so he becomes president in 1990. He is succeeded in 1994 by Eduardo Frei Ruíz Tagle of the PDC. In 1999 the CPD backs Ricardo Lagos Escóbar, member of both the Partido por la Democracia (Party for Democracy, PPD) and the PS, who wins the 1999/2000 presidential elections.
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