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politics and government of
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.
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 provinces of Valdivia, formerly part of the Los Lagos Region, and Ranco, formerly part of Valdivia. Both regions became operative in October 2007.
|Key||Name (English/Spanish)||Capital||Area (km2)||Population|
Región de Tarapacá
Región de Antofagasta
Región de Atacama
Región de Coquimbo
Región de Valparaíso
|VI||Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins|
Región del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins
Región del Maule
Región del Bío Bío
Región de la Araucanía
Región de Los Lagos
|XI||Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo|
Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
|XII||Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena|
Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena
Región de Los Ríos
|XV||Arica y Parinacota|
Región de Arica y Parinacota
Región Metropolitana de Santiago
Note: Populations are from the 2002 Census.