After Chile’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake in 2010, Santiago embraced a new era of economic expansion. More than five million people (30% of the country’s population) live in this metropolis, often top ranked in innovation, quality of life, foreign investment and ease of doing business in Latin America.
“Chile has a solid, versatile economy. It has one of the lowest public debts on the planet, and also one of the highest rated, at 11.9% of GDP, which allows it to invest in infrastructure and innovation. The driver of that development is Santiago, which has become a global hub, operating on a platform for doing business across the entire region,” said Spanish economist Javier Erquicia, one of the many foreign professionals living in Chile.
Chile’s macroeconomic figures are bursting with vitality. Last year it attracted almost 30% of total investments in Latin America (about $30.32 billion), while exports reached $78.28 billion, almost the same amount that its neighbour Argentina, which triples its territory and population. And while the whole the economy expands and new cultural trends arrive to Santiago, Chile keeps being the world’s larger copper producer, and its financial product portfolio has a return on equity of nearly 20%, similar to countries such as China and Brazil, according the Boston Consulting Group.
“Chile has never had so much money. But that wealth has yet to be distributed. Chile is one of the countries with the most income inequality and the most expensive university education in the world,” said journalist Jimena Aguilar. Santiago is preparing to expand its airport, which will accommodate 30 million users (up from 9 million), add several highways and metro lines, a high-speed train from Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, and even improve the navigability of Mapocho river, a discrete stream that crosses the city.
The Sebastian Piñera administration aims to make Chile the region’s most developed country before this decade is over. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates that at Chile’s current rate of growth (an average of 5% per year) the per capita income will exceed US 20,000 by 2015, which means in just a few years Chile may surpass economies such as Greece and Portugal.