Lunes 26 de mayo de 2014
The Sea: Essential to Chile’s Development
Since the beginning of its history, the Chilean Sea has been a valuable source of natural resources for its population and is the country's most important gateway to the rest of the world.
Currently, maritime transport is responsible for carrying over 80% of Chile's foreign trade. Chile's major markets are located in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by the United States, South America and Europe. Moreover, the sea enables the development of activities such as fishing, aquaculture and tourism, all of which are essential to Chile's economy. The recent discovery of extensive deposits of gas hydrates means that the latter may become a major source of energy in the future.
Copper extracted from enormous deposits found in the Andes mountain range is Chile's main export. Copper accounted for 45% of Chilean exports in 2004. In addition to copper other important exports are lumber, paper, chemical products, salmon, fish meal, fresh fruit, as well as wines which are world renowned for their quality.
Chile's coast is favoured by the Humboldt Current which provides waters rich in nutrients ideal for the development of many species of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Small and large-scale fishing activities including aquaculture provide direct employment for over 100,000 people and account for over 12% of the country's exports.
Over the past two decades this industry has grown substantially in Chile's coastal areas. Most significantly in the inlets and canals of Chile's southern fiord region and it's fresh water lakes. Molluscs such as oysters, abalone and mussels are mainly cultivated in the north, whilst salmon and rainbow trout farming are important industries in the south. Chile is currently the world's second largest exporter of salmon after Norway.
From the early times of the Spanish conquest of Chile in the sixteenth century, the nation's most important settlements began to develop along the coast. Of the thirteen cities that currently are Chile's regional capitals, seven of these are located on the coast as are Arica and Puerto Williams being these the nations most northern and southern cities respectively.
From its calm and sunny beaches in the north to the fjords and canals of the south with their imposing backdrop of snowy mountains and glaciers, Chile's coastline offers a multitude of recreational and sporting activities. Southern Chile is also a favourite destination for international tourists travelling aboard the many cruise ships that visit it's shores each year.