Chile’s population swells to 17 million

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times

SANTIAGO – The Chilean population has grown by almost 15% in the last 15 years, reaching over 17 million inhabitants, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

The first results of April’s census were announced on August 31st, which revealed the total population as 17,373,831. The 2002 census put the total population as 15,116,435 people, but the growth has been called “low” and “stable” by one of the country’s leading geographers, according to El Mostrador.

This year’s census is the first official count since 2002, as the 2012 census results were disqualified due to a series of problems with the gathering and treatment of the results. The spoiled census five years ago led to this census – originally scheduled for 2022 – to be bought forward five years to 2017.

According to the results, which split the population by region and city although not by gender, over 40% of the population of Chile (7,036,792 people) live in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago. The second and third largest regions were those of Biobío (with 2,018,803 inhabitants) and Valparaíso (1,790,219 people).

Rodrigo Hidalgo, a geography professor from the Universidad Católica, warned that this population concentration “could be unsustainable.” About 73% of the population live in the areas between the regions of Valparaíso and Biobío, which the academic says could put pressure on the infrastructure and the natural resources of these areas.

He underlined specifically risks due to a lack of water and electricity, pointing out that already this winter the areas have suffered from “a significant energy crisis” with several prolonged periods of power cuts.

The results released Thursday are only the preliminary findings of the investigation. A fuller report will be released in December, which will officially confirm and expand on these recent results.

The Director of the INE, Ximena Clark, explained the preliminary results are gained from analysis of the summary forms, which all participants should have completed at the end of the census, BiobioChile reports. However, she underlined that “the definitive results, which will be released on December 22nd, will come from analysis of the full forms, which means that the figures will differ slightly. This is completely normal, but it won’t be a considerable difference.”

The entire census report is expected to be released in April 2018.