If we compare the last censuses performed in the country, one may state that the population has grown at a fast rate.
According to data collected in the XIX century, Chile had a population of only 2.7 million inhabitants, while in the last census, conducted in 2002, there were 15,116,435 Chileans accounted for. Of that total, 7,668,740 correspond to women and 7,447,695 correspond to men.
In order to explain the steady increase in population over the last few decades, we may say that there is a diversity of factors that contributed to improving the quality of life throughout the land. Among them: the implementation of efficient public healthcare policies (vaccinations, introducing new medicine, better hygiene, etc.), an improvement in the quality of the population’s diet, advances in education, among other factors.
We also have to point out that numbers reflect that, despite the fact the amount of inhabitants has grown in the country, this phenomenon has slowed down in recent years. In 1960, our country presented a clear demographic expansion, with indicators close to 2.5%. However, between 1982 and 1992, the average annual growth rate within the population was only 1.6%, while in the period between 1992 and 2002, it only reached 1.2%.
At the same time, a drop in the fertility rate and an increase in life expectancy can explain the demographic aging our population is going through. Annually, young population decreases, while senior citizens increase. According to the 2002 census, 25.7% of the population is under the age of 15, and almost 11% is over 60.
In reference to the amount of urban and rural population, the 2002 census provided the following numbers: while the population residing in urban areas corresponded to 86.6% of the national total, the rural population only reached 13.4%. This indicator dropped compared to the 1992 census, meaning that 181,674 people moved from a rural zone and settled down in an urban area.
Meanwhile, throughout the country the population is not distributed equally. While fewer people live at the far ends of the country, most live in the central-southern zone.
Historical reasons, such as the founding of the first cities or the implementation of colonization plans can explain this phenomenon, as well as the availability of resources for survival or the possibilities for economic development present in each zone.
In order to measure the distribution of the population in numbers, we use the term population density. It refers to the relationship that exists between the amount of inhabitants and the space they take up. For example, the region of Aisen presents the country’s lowest density, with only 0.8 inhabitants per squared kilometer; meanwhile, the Metropolitan region presents the highest density, with 393.5.