- Regions of Chile
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Chile is divided into 15 regions (in Spanish, regiones; singular región), which are the country's first-level administrative division. Each region is headed by an intendant (intendente), appointed by the President, and an indirectly-elected body known as regional board (consejo regional).
Regions are divided into provinces (second-level administrative division), each headed by a governor (gobernador), appointed by the President. There are 54 provinces, in total. Provinces are further divided into communes (third and lowest level administrative division), which are governed by municipalities.
Each region is given a Roman numeral, followed by a name (e.g. IV Región de Coquimbo, read as "fourth region of Coquimbo" in Spanish). When the regional structure was created, Roman numerals were assigned in ascending order from north to south, with the northernmost region designated as I (first) and the southernmost region as XII (twelfth). The Santiago Metropolitan Region, located in the center of the country and home to the country's capital Santiago, was excluded from this naming scheme and given instead the initials RM, standing for Región Metropolitana ("Metropolitan Region" in Spanish). With the creation of regions XIV in the south and XV in the north (XIII is not used) in 2007, the north-south Roman numeral order was broken.
History of the regional structure
The current administrative divisions of Chile were created in 1974 and limited to 13 regions (this limitation was eliminated in 2005 via a constitutional reform). Previously, Chile was divided into 25 provinces, which were further divided into departments, and then into communes. The new territorial organization was implemented in phases with some initial "pilot regions" beginning to operate in 1974, extending the process on January 1, 1976 to the rest of the country. The Santiago Metropolitan Region began to operate in April 1980.
In December 2006 two new regions were created: the northern Arica and Parinacota Region, by taking out the two northernmost provinces from the Tarapacá Region; and Los Ríos Region in the south, encompassing the province of Valdivia, formerly part of the Los Lagos Region. Both regions became operative in October 2007.
List of regions
Key Name (English/Spanish) Capital Area (km2) Population XV Arica and Parinacota
Región de Arica y Parinacota
Arica 16,898.6 189,644 I Tarapacá
Región de Tarapacá
Iquique 41,799.5 238,950 II Antofagasta
Región de Antofagasta
Antofagasta 126,049.1 493,984 III Atacama
Región de Atacama
Copiapó 75,176.2 254,336 IV Coquimbo
Región de Coquimbo
La Serena 40,579.9 603,210 V Valparaíso
Región de Valparaíso
Valparaíso 16,396.1 1,539,852 VI O'Higgins
Región del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins
Rancagua 16,387 780,627 VII Maule
Región del Maule
Talca 30,296.1 908,097 VIII Biobío
Región del Biobío
Concepción 37,062.6 1,861,562 IX Araucanía
Región de la Araucanía
Temuco 31,842.3 869,535 XIV Los Ríos
Región de Los Ríos
Valdivia 18,429.5 356,396 X Los Lagos
Región de Los Lagos
Puerto Montt 48,584.5 716,739 XI Aisén
Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Coihaique 108,494.4 91,492 XII Magallanes and Antártica Chilena
Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena
Punta Arenas 132,297.2 150,826 RM Santiago Metropolitan
Región Metropolitana de Santiago
Santiago 15,403.2 6,061,185
Note: Populations are from the 2002 Census.
Regions of Chile Spanish terms for country subdivisions National · Federal Regional · Metropolitan Urban · RuralHistorical subdivisions in italics. First-level administrative divisions of South American countriesTable of administrative country subdivisions by country
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