The Chilean economy has been dominated by the production of copper since the early 20th century. Chile remained the world’s leading producer and exporter of copper in the early 21st century. Beginning in the 1940s the government worked to diversify the economy, rapidly expanding the industrial sector. In the 1970s and 1980s the government made efforts to improve the neglected agricultural section and to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food. Today Chile is one of the leading industrial nations in Latin America as well as one of its largest mineral producers. Chile is also known for its fruit and wine production.
By the end of the 1980s fruit ranked second to copper in export earnings. However, fruit production has since suffered as a result of drought and weather patterns created by El Niño.
During the period of military rule from 1973 to 1990, the government played a less prominent role in the economy and most nationalized companies were returned to private ownership. Since the return to civilian government in 1990, spending on social welfare has increased, although exports, business investments, and consumer spending have also grown. Privatization of industry has continued but at a slower pace. In 2007 the national budget had $45 billion in revenues and $28.3 billion in expenditures. Chile’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 was $163.9 billion. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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