A country of southwest South America with a long Pacific coastline. Originally inhabited by Araucanian Indian peoples, it was colonized by Spain in 1541 and declared its independence in 1818. One of the most politically stable and economically prosperous of South American countries, Chile annexed mineral-rich territory from Bolivia and Peru following the War of the Pacific (1879-1884). Santiago is the capital and the largest city. Population: 16,300,000.