Fundo, a Chilean landed estate that often includes ranching and farming. A benign climate and good soils made the narrow, central valley of Chile a rich agricultural and grazing region. Since the colonial era, a small number of landowners has controlled most of the arable lands. During the seventeenth century, fundos produced mostly food for local markets and cattle for tallow exports to Peru. Fundos began growing wheat at the end of the century, but the small internal market limited production.
Authorities differ slightly on the definition and size of a fundo, but they agree that large estates dominated the Chilean countryside. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, some subdivision of agricultural lands took place. The resulting Chacras, or minifundios (tiny plots), seldom included enough land for profitable farming or grazing. The twentieth century witnessed a rise both in land concentration and in the gulf between Chile's landed oligarchy and the rural masses. Not until the frustrated attempts at land reform under Salvador Allende (1970–1973) was the position of large fundo owners challenged. His overthrow and death removed for a time threats to the Chilean rural elite.
Benjamín Vicuña Mac Kenna, A Sketch of Chili (1866).
Arnold J. Bauer, Chilean Rural Society from the Spanish Conquest to 1930 (1975).
Brian Loveman, Struggle in the Countryside: Politics and Rural Labor in Chile, 1919–1973 (1976).
Academia Chilena de la Historia. Partners in Conflict: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Labor in the Chilean Agrarian Reform, 1950–1973. Santiago: Academia Chilena de la Historia, 2001.
Tinsman, Heidi. Vida rural en Chile durante el siglo XIX. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.
Richard W. Slatta