Chile is divided into 15 regions (in Spanish, regiones; singular región), which are the country's first-level administrative division. Each region is headed by an intendant (intendente), appointed by the President of Chile, and an directly elected regional board (consejo regional).

The regions are divided into provinces (the second-level administrative division), each headed by a governor (gobernador) appointed by the President. There are 54 provinces in total. Provinces are divided into communes (the third and lowest level administrative division), which are governed by municipal councils.


Each region is given a Roman numeral, followed by a name (e.g. IV Región de Coquimbo, read as "fourth region of Coquimbo" in Spanish). When the regional structure was created, Roman numerals were assigned in ascending order from north to south, with the northernmost region designated as I (first) and the southernmost region as XII (twelfth). The Santiago Metropolitan Region, located in the center of the country and home to the country's capital Santiago, was excluded from this naming scheme and given instead the initials RM, standing for Región Metropolitana ("Metropolitan Region" in Spanish). With the creation of regions XIV and XVI in the south and XV in the north (XIII is not used) in 2007, the north-south Roman numeral order was broken.

In February 2018, the Strengthening of Regionalization Law (Law 21074) was enacted [1]. Among other themes treated, it was removed the roman numerals who count the regions.

History of the regional structure

The administrative divisions of Chile were created in 1974 and limited to 13 regions (this limitation was eliminated in 2005 via a constitutional reform). Previously, Chile was divided into 25 provinces, which were further divided into departments, and then into communes. The new territorial organization was implemented in phases with some initial "pilot regions" beginning to operate in 1974, extending the process on January 1, 1976 to the rest of the country. The Santiago Metropolitan Region began to operate in April 1980.

In December 2006, two new regions were created: the northern Arica and Parinacota Region, by taking out the two northernmost provinces from the Tarapacá Region; and Los Ríos Region in the south, encompassing the provinces of Valdivia, formerly part of the Los Lagos Region, and Ranco, formerly part of Valdivia.[2] Both regions became operative in October 2007.

In August 2017, the Ñuble Region was created from what was then the Ñuble Province of the Biobío Region. The old province was divided into three new provinces: Diguillín, Punilla, and Itata. The new region's capital will be Chillán. It will become operational in September 2018.[3].


Since their creation, each region is headed by a intendant (intendente) appointed by the President of Chile, and a regional board (consejo regional). The intendants count with the direct colaboration of the SEREMI (Ministerial Regional secretary) in specific matters, such as public health, education, agriculture, among others. The SEREMI are appointed by the President. Thanks to the Strengthening of Regionalization Law, since the 2020 municipal elections each intendant will be elected at the same date along with the mayors and municipal councillors, using a Two-round system. If no candidate obtains the minimum threshold 40% of the valid votes, a runoff election is held between the two candidates with the most votes, and the winner is elected by a simple majority.[4][5]. Also the law will change the name Intendant to Regional Governor (Gobernador regional). The President will appoint a Regional presidential delegate (delegado presidencial regional), who will represent the national government in the region.

The board was elected among the members of the municipal councils (consejo municipal) of each commune of the respective region. Since the 2013 election the regional board members (Consejero regional) are directly elected using an using Open list proportional representation, with seats allocated using the D'Hondt method. Each of the 54 provinces are headed by a governor (gobernador) appointed by the President. Since 2020, the provincial governors will change their name to Provincial presidential delegate' (delegado presidencial provincial), still appointed by the President.

List of regions

Flag Name
Capital Area (km2) Population
Order from
north to south
Flag of Tarapaca, Chile.svg Tarapacá
Región de Tarapacá
Iquique 42,225.8 336,769 2
Flag of Antofagasta Region, Chile.svg Antofagasta
Región de Antofagasta
Antofagasta 126,049.1 622,640 3
Flag of Atacama, Chile.svg Atacama
Región de Atacama
Copiapó 75,176.2 312,486 4
Flag of Coquimbo Region, Chile.svg Coquimbo
Región de Coquimbo
La Serena 40,579.9 771,085 5
Flag of Valparaiso Region, Chile.svg Valparaíso
Región de Valparaíso
Valparaíso 16,396.1 1,825,757 6
Flag of O'Higgins Region, Chile.svg O'Higgins
Región del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins
Rancagua 16,387 918,751 8
Flag of Maule, Chile.svg Maule
Región del Maule
Talca 30,296.1 1,042,989 9
Flag of Biobío Region, Chile.svg Bío Bío
Región del Bío Bío
Concepción 37,068.7 2,114,286 10
Flag of La Araucania, Chile.svg Araucanía
Región de La Araucanía
Temuco 31,842.3 989,798 11
Flag of Los Lagos Region, Chile.svg Los Lagos
Región de Los Lagos
Puerto Montt 48,583.6 841,123 13
Flag of Aysen, Chile.svg Aysén
Región de Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Coihaique 108,494.4 108,328 14
Flag of Magallanes, Chile.svg Magallanes
Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena
Punta Arenas 132,291.1 164,661 15
Flag of the Metropolitan Region, Chile.svg Santiago
Región Metropolitana de Santiago
Santiago 15,403.2 7,314,176 7
Flag of Los Ríos, Chile.svg Los Ríos
Región de Los Ríos
Valdivia 18,429.5 404,432 12
Flag of Arica y Parinacota, Chile.svg Arica and Parinacota
Región de Arica y Parinacota
Arica 16,873.3 239,126 1

See also