History of Chile

border of the colony was driven northward. The abolition of slavery by the Spanish crown in 1683 was done in recognition that enslaving the Mapuche intensified resistance rather than cowing them into submission. Despite the royal prohibitions relations remained strained from continual colonialist interference.

Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Mapuche, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by both the Mapuche and Spain's European enemies, especially the British and the Dutch. Buccaneers and English adventurers menaced the colony in addition to the Mapuche, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake's 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the colony's principal port. Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, making it one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

The first general census was performed by the government of Agustín de Jáuregui between 1777 and 1778; it indicated that the population consisted of 259,646 inhabitants: 73.5% of European descent, 7.9% mestizos, 8.6% Indians and 9.8% blacks. Francisco Hurtado, Governor of the province of Chiloé, conducted a census there in 1784 and found the population consisted of 26,703 inhabitants, 64.4% of which were whites and 33.5% of which were natives.

The Diocese of Concepción conducted a census of areas south of the Maule river in 1812, but did not include the indigenous population or the inhabitants of the province of Chiloé. The population is estimated at 210,567, 86.1% of which were Spanish or of European descent, 10% of which were Indians and 3.7% of which were mestizos, blacks and mulattos.


The usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's