What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Chile?

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe on December 24 2018 in Economics

Open pit copper mine in Northern Chile.
Open pit copper mine in Northern Chile.

Chile is an independent nation in South America. The country is in the shape of a long narrow strip of land at the southwestern end of South America. Chile lies along the Pacific coast and includes some islands in the Pacific Ocean. Chile occupies an area of 292,183 square miles. The South American nation can be divided into four geographical regions stretching from its northern end to the southern end. Chile experiences diverse climatic conditions such as hot desert climate, Mediterranean climate, subtropical climate, and cold alpine climate. Chile has a wealth of natural resources including copper, forests, arable land, water resources, coal, natural gas and oil, and beautiful landscapes.


Chile is the top producer of copper in the world. It is estimated that 34% of the copper produced in the world comes from Chile. The country began extracting copper even before the colonial period. Copper exports contribute the largest income to Chile. Most of the copper mines are situated in the northern region of Chile in the Atacama Desert. The government of Chile owns the copper mining companies that operate in the country. The copper production industry provides jobs to many residents of Chile. The industry also earns Chile enormous amounts of foreign income. Due to Chile’s over-reliance on copper, the country’s economic performance is often affected by copper prices in the world market.


Chile has vast forests on its land. Most of the forests are found in the central region of Chile. The region’s temperate and Mediterranean climates are suitable for growing forests. Some of the indigenous trees that grow in the country are oaks, pines, rauli, coigue, and laurel trees. Forests are important natural resources in Chile. Forests are the second largest sector in the South American nation. Close to 14% of Chile’s export income comes from the forestry industry. The trees are used in the paper industry. The trees are also used to supply the huge timber industry in the region. Timber from Chilean forests is used in making furniture, and in the construction sector. The forests also supply firewood to the local communities in Chile.

Arable Land

Chile is endowed with large tracts of arable land. The land supports agricultural activities in the country. Agriculture is a big industry in Chile. The country has an estimated 34,600 acres of arable land. The nation has large agricultural producers and small subsistence farmers. The large-scale agricultural producers apply advanced technology in their farms. Small time farmers grow crops on their farms using old farming techniques. Some of the crops grown in the country are apples, corn, grapes, oats, beans, peaches, wheat, and onion. The farmers in Chile also rear animals such as cattle, pigs, and poultry. The agricultural industry in Chile employs approximately 17% of Chile’s workforce. Besides, agriculture contributes to the national income through exports. Some of the agricultural goods exported to South American countries are sugar beets, fresh fruits, wines, vegetables, and dairy products.

Water Resources

Chile has plenty of water resources within its borders. The country has the second longest coastline in South America. The country’s Pacific coast is approximately 2,700 miles from north to south. Chile has a vibrant fishing industry that supports many Chilean residents. Big privately owned fishing companies operate along the Chilean coast. Additionally, there are several fish-processing companies in the northern part of Chile. Chile is a major supplier of fish to neighboring South American countries. Some of the fish produced in Chile include sardines, hake, anchovy, and Jack mackerel. The fish harvested from Chilean waters is processed in the fish-plants and then exported to Europe, the United States, and South America. The main products from fish are the fish meal and oil from the fish. The water resources in Chile are also useful in providing hydroelectric power. Some of the major rivers in Chile have hydroelectric power stations that generate electricity to the South American country.


Chile has coal as a natural resource. Coal deposits are found in small quantities throughout the country. Chile started mining coal in the early 19th century. Coal was the main provider of energy in Chile before the hydroelectric power stations were established. Due to declining coal deposits and environmental concerns, Chile no longer relies heavily on coal as an energy source.

Natural Gas and Oil

Chile has limited reserves of natural gas and oil. The reserves are mainly found on the northern shore of the country. The oil produced in Chile is only half of the oil needed in the country. The oil and natural gas sector provide jobs to several Chilean nationals. The sector also contributes to the country’s economy.

Beautiful Landscape

Chile has some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. Some of the natural sites are the Andes, which are some of the highest mountain ranges on earth, the Atacama Desert, which is the world’s driest desert, national parks, lakes, ancient glaciers, and some white plains. Besides, Chile owns some iconic islands in the Pacific Ocean. All these beautiful sites are popular with international and local tourists. Chile has a successful tourism industry mainly due to its natural beauty. The diverse landscapes and scenic places are ideal places for investors in the hospitality and tourism sector. Tourism adds to Chile’s national income. The sector also provides jobs to many people in Chile.

Management of Natural Resources in Chile

Chile is one of the best performing economies of the South American continent. The main reason for its success is the prudent use of its natural resources. Chile is a nation that exercises proper management of its resources. The country has some of the best policies on extraction and trade of its minerals. In 2011, Chile was listed as the 8th best nation for mining companies to invest. Chile maintains transparency in managing its natural resources. The country also has government agencies that protect the limited resources in the country from overexploitation. The main income generating industries in Chile is copper mining and forestry sectors, which are owned by the government. As a result, resources from these industries are collected by the government and invested in development projects.

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