Most Chileans are employed in the service sector, which includes health workers, teachers, government and domestic employees. The second largest group works in the banking, real estate and insurance services. Others are employed in resource-based activities such as farming, fishing, ranching, forestry and mining.

Chilean farms produce grapes, which are used to make wine, as well as apples, sugar beets, tomatoes, potatoes, and maize. In the south are large farms where sheep are raised for their wool. Chile's fishing industry is known for mackerel, anchovy, sardine and herring. Chile has important copper mines and oil and gas deposits in the southern regions of Tierra del Fuego and the Straits of Magellan.

The Chilean work week is 48 hours long, spread over five or six days. Business hours are typically from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and many businesses close for a short time in the afternoon.

Women make up one-third of the labour force. Female participation in the labour force is rising every year. In recent years, more women in Chile have been pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields such as medicine and law. By 1990 close to one-third of all doctors were women and this figure is increasing. By 1991, almost half of the country's judges were women. Despite these gains, unemployment is still higher for women than for men.

Did you know?

In 1990, the National Women's Service (Sernam) was created to ensure equal rights for women, bring them into the workforce, improve their quality of life and strengthen their family ties.

The Chilean government is trying to improve conditions for workers. All workers have the right to strike and discrimination against trade union workers is banned. The government also provides many benefits for working women. Women are entitled to maternity leave for six weeks before and twelve weeks after a birth. Also, during the first year after the baby's birth, women are entitled to leave work in order to nurse their babies or to take care of a sick child.

Poor children often work to help support their families. In 1987, almost half of Chile's population earned income below the poverty level and many fell well below this mark. The current government is trying to solve this problem. As of 1994, less than one-third of the population was below the poverty line and the figure is continuing to drop, although at a slower rate.