U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes: Chile, October 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 California.
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 


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-American.
Religions: Roman Catholic 89%; Protestant 11%.
Language: Spanish.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--3 million. Adult literacy rate--94%.
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--7%. Mining--


Type: Republic.
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, military courts.
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 mayors. 
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 three elections.
Suffrage: Universal at 18, including foreigners legally resident for more than 
5 years.

Economy (1997)

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 molybdenum.
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 textiles.
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 a healthy and sustainable 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 (covering defense, global 
security, agriculture, trade and investment, and bilateral issues).

Many other prominent Americans and senior U.S. officials visited Chile during the 
period 1995-1998, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, ex-Presidents Carter, Bush, and 
Ford, former Secretary of State Christopher, Secretary of State Albright, Secretary of 
Defense Cohen, many other members of the Cabinet and Congress, and senior members 
of the U.S. military, addressing issues ranging from education to international trade. 

The warm relationship enjoyed by the United States and Chile today contrasts with 
the difficult period of relations during Augusto Pinochet's military regime from 
1973-90. 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 entire hemisphere.

U.S. Embassy Functions

In addition to working closely with Chilean Government officials to strengthen 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 support U.S. 
companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Chile.

The Consular section of the embassy provides vital services to the more than 
7,000 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.  It also 
issues over 60,000 visitors' visas annually to Chilean citizens who plan to travel to the 

The U.S. Information Services' public affairs office is available to assist U.S. journalists 

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--John O'Leary
Deputy Chief of Mission--James J. Carragher
Economic and Political Counselor--Stephen Wesche
Agricultural Counselor--Richard J. Blabey 
Consul General--Carl Troy
Administrative Counselor--David Davison
Commercial Counselor--John Harris
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. The embassy's home page is at: 


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 significantly, resulting in a growth rate 
between 4.5-5.0% in 1998.  In 1999, observers expect growth to be in the 2.5-3.0% range. 

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 gradually over the next 5 

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%-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 6.1 % 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 1 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.

Foreign Trade 

Chile's economy is highly dependent on international trade. In 1997, exports 
reached $17.0 billion and imports $18.9 billion. Exports accounted for
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 

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; 
in 1997, 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 products.

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 23% of the country's imports in 1997. Import tariffs are currently 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 of the 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 investment.

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.


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 private investment.

General Pinochet was denied a second 8-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 6-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 9 appointed or "institutional" 
senators; and diminish the role of the National Security Council by equalizing 
the number of civilian and military members (4 members each).

Chile's bicameral Congress has a 48-seat Senate (38 elected, 9 appointed, 1 
for life) and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Deputies are elected every 4 
years. Senators serve for 8 years with staggered terms. The current Senate 
contains 20 members from the center-left governing coalition, 18 from the 
rightist opposition. In March 1998, 9 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 6 years shall be entitled to a lifetime senate seat.) 
Both the Aylwin and Frei Administrations have proposed unsuccessfully the abolition of 
the 9 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 Court.

National Security 

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. The Commander in Chief is Lt. General Ricardo Izurieta. The 55,000-person 
army is organized into 6 divisions, 1 separate brigade, and an air wing.

Navy. Admiral Jorge Arancibia directs the 29,000-person navy, including 5,200 
marines. The fleet of 31 surface vessels and 4 submarines is based in 
Valparaiso. The navy operates its own aircraft.

Air Force. General Fernando Rojas Vender heads a force of 15,000. Air assets are 
distributed among 4 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 
throughout Chile.


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 

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 (1924-32).

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 reportedly 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 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--Genaro ARRIAGADA
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).


American Chamber of Commerce in Chile
Vespucio Sur 80, Piso 9
82 Correo 34 Santiago
Tel: Fax: 562-290-9700 
Fax: 562-206-0911/2247
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


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 the country. 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: http://travel.state.gov 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 202-512-2250.

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 202-647-4000.

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-

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) 

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). This may 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 http://www.state.gov.

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. It is available on the Internet 
(http://www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 
for more information.


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