U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Chile, March 1998
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Chile
Area: 756,945 sq. km. (302,778 sq. mi.); nearly twice the size of
Cities: Capital--Santiago (metropolitan area est. 5.2 million). Other
cities--Concepcion-Talcahuano (840,000); Vina del Mar-Valparaiso
(800,000); Antofagasta (245,000); Temuco (230,000).
Terrain: Desert in north; fertile central valley; volcanoes and lakes
toward the south, giving way to rugged and complex coastline; Andes
Mountains on the eastern border.
Climate: Arid in north, Mediterranean in the central portion, cool and
damp in south.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Chilean(s).
Population (1997): 14.6 million.
Annual population growth rate: 1.5%.
Ethnic groups: Spanish-Native-American (mestizo), European, Native-
Religions: Roman Catholic 89%; Protestant 11%.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--3 million. Adult literacy
Health: Infant mortality rate--17/1,000. Life expectancy--72 yrs.
Work force (5.2 million): Services and government--36%. Industry and
commerce--34%. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing--14%. Construction--
Independence: September 18, 1810.
Constitution: Promulgated September 11, 1980; effective March 11, 1981;
amended in 1989 and 1993.
Branches: Executive--president. Legislative--bicameral legislature.
Judicial--Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, court of appeals,
Administrative subdivisions: 12 numbered regions, plus Santiago
metropolitan region, administered by appointed "intendentes," regions
are divided into provinces, administered by appointed governors;
provinces are divided into municipalities administered by elected
Political parties: Major parties are the Christian Democrat Party, the
National Renewal Party, the Party for Democracy, the Socialist Party,
the Independent Democratic Union, and the Radical Social Democratic
Party. The Communist Party has not won a congressional seat in the last
Suffrage: Universal at 18, including foreigners legally resident for
more than five years.
GDP: $77.1 billion.
Annual real growth rate: 7.1%.
Per capita GDP: $5,280.
Mining (8.2% of GDP): Copper, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, and
Forestry, agriculture and fisheries (7.5% of GDP): Products--wheat,
potatoes, corn, sugar beets, onions, beans, fruits, livestock, fish.
Industry (15.3% of GDP): Types--mineral refining, metal manufacturing,
food processing, fish processing, paper and wood products, finished
Trade (1996): Exports--$15.4 billion: copper, fishmeal, fruits, wood
products, paper products. Major markets--EU 24%, U.S. 17%, Japan 16%,
U.K. 6%, Brazil 6%, South Korea 6%, Germany 5%, Argentina 5%. Imports--
$17.4 billion: petroleum, chemical products, capital goods, vehicles,
electronic equipment, consumer durables, machinery. Major suppliers--
U.S. 24%, EU 20%, Argentina 9%, Brazil 6%, Japan 5%, Germany 4%.
Relations between the United States and Chile are better now than at any
other time in history. The United States Government applauded the
rebirth of democratic practices in Chile in the late 1980s and early
1990s and sees the maintenance of a vibrant democracy and healthy
economy as among the most important U.S. interests in Chile. President
Eduardo Frei's February 1997 state visit to the United States forged
close ties with President Clinton, leading to the latter's state visit
to Chile in April 1998. The two governments consult frequently on issues
of mutual concern, and dialogue takes place in four bilateral
commissions (on defense, global security, agriculture, and science).
Many prominent Americans and senior U.S. officials visited Chile during
the period 1995-1997, including Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, ex-
Presidents Carter, Bush, and Ford, former Secretary of State
Christopher, and many other members of the Cabinet and Congress, and
senior members of the U.S. military, concerning a large range of issues
from education through international trade.
The warm relationship enjoyed by United States and Chile today contrasts
with the difficult period of relations during Augusto Pinochet's
military regime from 1973-89. A 1976 car bomb attack in Washington, DC,
which killed Orlando Letelier, former Chilean ambassador to the United
States and a member of President Salvador Allende's cabinet, and U.S.
citizen Ronni Moffitt, caused a sharp deterioration in relations,
including a ban on security assistance and arms sales to Chile. In
response to a commitment by President Aylwin's Government to pursue the
Letelier-Moffitt case within the Chilean judicial system, President Bush
lifted the sanctions. A Chilean court subsequently convicted two Chilean
military officers of having ordered the assassination.
The goal of U.S. foreign policy in Chile is to pursue expanded economic
relations and to cooperate on a range of bilateral and multilateral
issues of interest. Above all, the United States believes that an
economically strong and democratically healthy Chile will benefit the
U.S. Embassy Functions
Besides working closely with Chilean Government officials to improve our
bilateral relationship, the U.S. Embassy in Santiago provides a wide
range of services to U.S. citizens and businesses in Chile. (Please see
the Embassy's home page: http://www.rdc.cl/~usemb for details of these
services.) The embassy is also the locus for a number of American
community activities in the Santiago area.
Attaches at the embassy from the Foreign Commercial Service and Foreign
Agriculture Service work closely with the hundreds of U.S. companies
which maintain offices in Chile. These officers provide information on
Chilean trade and industry regulations and administer several programs
intended to aid U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures
The Consular section of the embassy provides vital services to the more
than 5,500 U.S. citizens residing in Chile. Among other services, the
Consular section assists Americans who wish to participate in U.S.
elections while abroad and provides U.S. tax information. Besides the
U.S. residents living in Chile, over 80,000 U.S. citizens visit
annually. The Consular section offers passport and emergency services to
U.S. tourists as needed during their stay in Chile.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Charles S. Shapiro
Economic and Political Counselor--Stephen Wesche
Agricultural Counselor--Richard J. Blabey
Consul General--Thomas J. Rice
Administrative Counselor--David Davison
Commercial Counselor--Carlos F. Poza
Defense Attache--Capt. Thomas L. Breitinger, USN
Public Affairs Officer--Kathleen Brion
Milgroup Commander--Col. Mark Mayer
The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Santiago are located at 2800 Andres
Bello Avenue, Las Condes, (tel. 562-232-2600; fax: 562-330-3710). The
mailing address is Casilla 27-D, Santiago, Chile. Internet:
Chile's economy, spurred by free market-oriented policies, has averaged
a real growth rate of almost 8% per year over the past decade. A limited
government role in the economy, openness to international trade and
investment, high domestic savings and investment rates, and budget
surpluses have made this performance possible. The economy's rapid
growth has led to steady increases in wages and living standards.
In 1997, the economy grew by 7.1% in real terms as the inflation rate
fell to 6.0%. With investment continuing at a record pace, the economy
is expected to continue growing quite vigorously over the next several
years. The late-1997/98 financial crisis in Asia is expected to
negatively affect Chilean exports and reduce Chile's substantial trade
surplus with the region; the Asian crisis is expected to reduce Chilean
GDP expansion by roughly one percentage point, resulting in a growth
rate of between 5.5% and 6.0% in 1998.
Chile has achieved central government budget surpluses every year since
1988. In 1997, the surplus equaled 1.9 % of GDP. The 1973-90 military
government sold many state-owned companies, and the two democratic
governments since 1990 have continued privatization at a more sporadic
pace. Import tariffs are a flat 11% on nearly all products and the GOC
plans to reduce the rate to 8% in 1998. Policy measures such as the
privatization of the national pension system encourage domestic
investment, contributing to an estimated total domestic savings rate of
approximately 23% of GDP in 1997. The foreign investment law offers
investors basically the same treatment as domestic firms, along with
some extra guarantees.
Wages have risen faster than inflation each year since 1990; nearly all
of this growth reflects greater productivity. The higher wages have
increased living standards and have brought more people into the labor
force. The share of Chileans with incomes below the poverty line
(roughly $4,000/year for a family of four) fell from 46% of the
population in 1987 to 23% in 1997.
Unemployment has varied with the business cycle in recent years, with
annual rates of between 4.5% and 6.0%.
Inflation has declined every year since 1990, when the indicator stood
at 27%. In 1996, December-to-December inflation stood at 8.2%, and it
fell to 6.0 % in 1997. Because most wage settlements and spending
decisions are indexed, either formally or informally, it has been
difficult to reduce inflation rapidly while maintaining high growth
rates. Still, the independent Central Bank has been willing to raise
interest rates when necessary to bring down inflation.
The establishment of a compulsory private sector pension system in 1981
was an important step toward increasing domestic savings and the pool of
investment capital. Under this system, all workers must pay 10% of their
salaries into privately managed funds. This large capital pool has been
supplemented by substantial foreign investment.
Total public and private investment in the Chilean economy is very high;
in 1997, investment accounted for 33% of GDP, a historical record. The
government recognizes the necessity of steadily increasing private
investment to boost worker productivity. The government is also
encouraging diversification to non-traditional exports such as fruit,
wine, and fish to gradually reduce the relative importance of basic
traditional exports such as copper, timber, and other natural resources.
Chile's welcoming attitude toward foreign direct investment is codified
in the country's Foreign Investment Law, which gives foreign investors
the same treatment as Chileans. Registration is simple and transparent,
and foreign investors are guaranteed access to the official foreign
exchange market to repatriate their profits and capital. However, such
capital must be kept in Chile for one year before being repatriated.
Foreign direct investment in Chile continued at a record pace in 1997,
adding $5.0 billion to the total stock. Total foreign investment flows
in 1998 (including portfolio and other indirect forms of investment)
were $8.1 billion, or better than 10% of GDP.
Chile's economy is highly dependent on international trade. In 1996,
exports reached $15.4 billion and imports $17.4 billion. Exports
accounted for almost 22% of GDP. Chile has traditionally been dependent
upon copper exports. The state-owned firm CODELCO is the world's largest
copper producing company. Foreign private investment has developed many
new mines, and the private sector produces more copper than CODELCO.
Copper output is expected to increase significantly in the next few
years as more private sector projects come on stream.
Non-traditional exports have grown faster than those of copper and other
minerals. In 1975, non-mineral exports made up just over 30% of total
exports; by 1996, they accounted for 52% of export earnings. The most
important non-mineral exports are forestry and wood products, fresh
fruit and processed food, fishmeal and seafood, and other manufactured
Chile's export markets are geographically diverse. Asia and the European
Union are the largest regional markets. The U.S., the largest single
market, takes in about 17% of Chile's exports. Latin America has been
the fastest-growing export market in recent years. The government
actively seeks to promote Chile's exports globally. Since 1991, Chile
has signed free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Venezuela,
Colombia, and Ecuador. An association agreement with MERCOSUR
(Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) went into effect in October
1996. Chile has joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
organization in an effort to boost commercial ties to Asian markets.
Also, Chile and the European Union plan to negotiate a trade agreement
in the medium term. Chile shares the U.S. interest in negotiating a
comprehensive trade agreement between the two countries. This is due in
large part because the United States is the country's most important
single trading partner and source of foreign investment; both countries
also recognize that the example it would set for broader hemispheric
trade integration would be in each other's interest. Chile's 1996 free
trade agreement with Canada was modeled largely on NAFTA in anticipation
of an eventual trade pact with the United States; similarly, Chile
broadened its bilateral free trade agreement with Mexico in March 1998.
Imports have grown along with the economy in the past few years. The
country's high investment rate is reflected in the fact that capital
goods make up almost 30% of total imports. The United States is Chile's
largest single supplier, supplying 24% of the country's imports in 1996.
Import tariffs are a flat 11% on nearly all products although higher
effective tariffs can be charged on imports of wheat, wheat flour,
vegetable oils, and sugar as a result of a system of import price bands.
Chile's financial sector has grown faster than other areas economy over
the last few years; a banking law reform approved in 1997 broadened the
scope of permissible foreign activity for Chilean banks. Domestically,
Chileans have enjoyed the recent introduction of new financial tools
such as home equity loans, currency futures and options, factoring,
leasing, and debit cards. The introduction of these new products has
been accompanied by increased use of traditional instruments such as
loans and credit cards. Chile's private pension system, with assets
worth over $30 billion at the end of 1997, has provided an important
source of investment capital for the stock market. The number of firms
with shares traded on the stock market continues to grow.
Chile's credit rating is one of the best in Latin America. In recent
years, many Chilean companies have sought to raise capital abroad due to
the relatively lower interest rates outside of Chile. There are three
main ways Chilean firms raise funds abroad: bank loans, issuance of
bonds, and the selling of stock on U.S. markets through American
Depository Receipts (ADRs). Nearly all of the funds raised go to finance
The government is rapidly paying down its foreign debt. The combined
public and private foreign debt was roughly 35% of GDP at the end of
1997, low by Latin American standards.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Following a coup in 1973, Chile was ruled by a military regime headed by
General Augusto Pinochet until 1990. The first years of the regime were
marked by serious human rights violations. In its later years, however,
the regime gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and
association, to include trade-union activity.
In contrast to its authoritarian political rule, the military government
pursued decidedly laissez faire economic policies. During its 16 years
in power, Chile moved away from economic statism toward a largely free-
market economy and that fostered an increase in domestic and foreign
General Pinochet was denied a second eight-year term as President in a
national plebiscite in 1988. In December 1989, Christian Democrat
Patricio Aylwin, running as the candidate of a multi-party center-left
coalition, was elected president. In the 1993 election, Eduardo Frei
Ruiz-Tagle of the Christian Democratic Party was elected president for a
six-year term and took office in March 1994.
Chile's constitution was approved in a September 1980 national
plebiscite. It entered into force in March 1981. After Pinochet's defeat
in the 1988 plebiscite, the constitution was amended to: ease provisions
for future amendments to the constitution; create nine appointed or
"institutional" senators; and diminish the role of the National Security
Council by equalizing the number of civilian and military members (four
Chile's bicameral Congress has a 48-seat Senate (38 elected, 9
appointed, one for-life) and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Deputies
are elected every four years. Senators serve for eight years with
staggered terms. The current Senate contains 20 members from the center-
left governing coalition, 18 from the rightist opposition. In March
1998, nine newly appointed institutional senators--replacing those
appointed under the former military government in 1989--took seats, as
did ex-President Pinochet, who became a "senator for life" (Chile's
constitution provides that ex-Presidents who have served at least six
years shall be entitled to a lifetime senate seat.) Both the Aylwin and
Frei Administrations have proposed unsuccessfully the abolition of the
nine appointed Senate seats. The last congressional elections were held
in December 1997. The current lower house (the Chamber of Deputies)
contains 70 members of the governing coalition and 50 from the rightist
opposition. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaiso,
about 140 kilometers (84 mi.) west of the capital, Santiago.
Chile's congressional elections are governed by a unique binomial system
that rewards coalition slates. Each coalition can run two candidates for
the two Senate and two lower chamber seats apportioned to each chamber's
electoral districts. Typically, the two largest coalitions split the
seats in a district. Only if the leading coalition ticket outpolls the
second-place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning
coalition gain both seats.
The political parties with the largest representation in the current
Chilean Congress are the centrist Christian Democrat Party and the
center-right National Renewal Party. The Communist Party and the small
Humanist Party failed to gain any seats in the 1997 elections.
Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a
system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme
Chile's armed forces are subject to civilian control exercised by the
president through the Minister of Defense. Under the 1980 constitution,
the services enjoy considerable autonomy, and the president cannot
remove service commanders on his own authority.
Army 55, troops: The Commander in Chief is Lt. General Ricardo Izurieta.
The army is organized into six divisions, one separate brigade, and an
Navy: Admiral Jorge Arancibia directs the 29,000-person navy, including
5,200 marines. The fleet of 11 surface vessels and four submarines is
based in Valparaiso. The navy operates its own aircraft.
Air Force: General Fernando Rojas Vender heads a force of 12,000. Air
assets are distributed among four air brigades headquartered in Iquique,
Santiago, Puerto Montt, and Punta Arenas. The Air Force also operates an
airbase on King George Island, Antarctica.
The Chilean police are comprised of a national, uniformed police force
(carabineros) and a smaller, plainclothes investigations police force.
After the military coup in September 1973, the Chilean national police
were incorporated into the Defense Ministry. With the return of
democratic government, the police were placed under the operational
control of the Interior Ministry, but remain under the nominal control
of the Defense Ministry. General Manuel Ugarte, who directs the national
police force of 27,000, is responsible for law enforcement, traffic
management, narcotics suppression, border control, and counter-terrorism
About 85% of Chile's population live in urban centers with 40% living in
greater Santiago. Most have Spanish ancestry. A small, yet influential,
number of Irish and English immigrants came to Chile during the colonial
period. German immigration began in 1848 and lasted for 90 years; the
southern provinces of Valdivia, Llanquihue, and Osorno show a strong
German influence. Other significant immigrant groups are Italian,
Croatian, French, and Middle Eastern. About 400,000 Native Americans,
mostly of the Mapuche tribe, reside in the south-central area.
The northern Chilean desert contains great mineral wealth, primarily
copper and nitrates. The relatively small central area dominates the
country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area is
also the historical center from which Chile expanded until the late 19th
century, when it incorporated its northern and southern regions.
Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and features a
string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of
fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. It also has
small, rapidly declining petroleum reserves, which supplied about 8% of
Chile's domestic requirements during 1996.
About 10,000 years ago, migrating Indians settled in fertile valleys and
along the coast of what is now Chile. The Incas briefly extended their
empire into what is now northern Chile, but the area's remoteness
prevented extensive settlement.
In 1541, the Spanish, under Pedro de Valdivia, encountered hundreds of
thousands of Indians from various cultures in the area that modern Chile
now occupies. These cultures supported themselves principally through
slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. Although the Spanish did not
find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the
agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part
of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of
the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph. A national junta in the
name of Ferdinand--heir to the deposed king--was formed on September 18,
1810. Spanish attempts to reimpose arbitrary rule during what was called
the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle under Bernardo O'Higgins,
Chile's most renowned patriot. Chilean independence was formally
proclaimed on February 12, 1818.
The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th
century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial
social structure, family politics, and the influence of the Roman
Catholic Church. The system of presidential power eventually
predominated, but wealthy landowners continued to control Chile.
Toward the end of the 19th century, government in Santiago consolidated
its position in the south by persistently suppressing the Mapuche
Indians. In 1881, it signed a treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean
sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan. As a result of the War of the
Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879-83), Chile expanded its territory
northward by almost one-third and acquired valuable nitrate deposits,
the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence.
Chile established a parliamentary-style democracy in the late 19th
century, which tended to protect the interests of the ruling oligarchy.
By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful
enough to elect a reformist president, whose program was frustrated by a
conservative congress. Continuing political and economic instability
resulted in the quasi-dictatorial rule of General Carlos Ibanez (1924-
When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class
party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition
governments for the next 20 years. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with
strong popular support developed. During the period of Radical Party
dominance (1932-52), the state increased its role in the economy.
The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei-
Montalva (father of the current president) by an absolute majority
initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in
Liberty," the Frei Administration embarked on far-reaching social and
economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian
reform, including rural unionization of agricultural workers. By 1967,
however, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who
charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who
found them excessive.
In 1970, Dr. Salvador Allende, a Marxist and member of Chile's Socialist
Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP) coalition of Socialists,
Communists, Radicals, and dissident Christian Democrats, was elected by
a narrow margin. His program included the nationalization of most
remaining private industries and banks, massive land expropriation, and
collectivization. Allende's proposal also included the nationalization
of U.S. interests in Chile's major copper mines.
Elected with only 36% of the vote and by a plurality of only 36,000
votes, Allende never enjoyed majority support in the Chilean Congress or
broad popular support. Domestic production declined, severe shortages of
consumer goods, food, and manufactured products were widespread and
inflation reached 1,000% per annum. Mass demonstrations, recurring
strikes, violence by both government supporters and opponents, and
widespread rural unrest ensued in response to the general deterioration
of the economy. By 1973, Chilean society had split into two hostile
camps. A military coup overthrew Allende on September 11, 1973. As the
armed forces bombarded the presidential palace, Allende committed
With its return to democracy in 1990, Chile became an active participant
in the international political arena. It is an active member of the Rio
Group, and it rejoined the Non-Aligned Movement. Chile was a driving
force in the world summit for social development held in Copenhagen in
March 1995. Chile is an active member of the United Nations and the UN
family of agencies, serving on the UN Security Council 1995-97. Chile
participates in UN peacekeeping activities, including UNSCOM in Iraq.
The Chilean Government has diplomatic relations with most countries,
including Cuba. Chile maintains only consular relations with Bolivia;
Chile's acquisition of territory during the War of the Pacific (1879-83)
continues to influence adversely its relations with Peru and Bolivia.
Chile's association with the MERCOSUR countries in 1996 and its
continuing interest in hemispheric free trade, as well as its membership
in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping auger well for
even closer international economic ties in the future. Politically,
Chile has been one of the most active countries in supporting
implementation of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, hosting the second
Summit of the Americas in Santiago, April 1998.
Principal Government Officials
President--Eduardo FREI Ruiz-Tagle
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Jose Miguel INSULZA
Ambassador to the United States--John BIEHL Del Rio
Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS)--Carlos PORTALES
Ambassador to the United Nations--Juan SOMAVIA Altamirano
Chile maintains an embassy in the United States at 1732 Massachusetts
Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-785-1746).
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:
American Chamber of Commerce in Chile
Vespucio Sur 80, Piso 9
82 Correo 34
Home page: http://www.amchamchile.cl
U.S. Department of Commerce
Trade Information Center
International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 800-USA-TRADE, Fax: 202-482-4726
Home page: http://www.ita.doc.gov
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information
quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term
conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the
modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set
terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop
bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the
password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries
international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory
Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on
obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity
documents or help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual basis by
the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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