The self-name is cultura chilena Orientation Identification. There exist different explanations about the origins of the name "Chile. In contrast to many other Latin American nations, Chile has not experienced the emergence of strong regionalism or conflicting regional cultural identities. Since the late nineteenth century, both the northern and southern regions have been mainly populated by people coming from the central region, helping to strengthen the country's cultural homogeneity.
Notwithstanding the existence of a strong dominant national culture, some cultural regional traditions can be identified. In the southern region the Mapuche Indians are a large cultural group who strongly contributed to the formation of Chilean culture. Some two thousand miles off the coast of Chile lies the remote Eastern Island, which is inhabited by twenty-eight hundred native islanders who still keep alive many of their Polynesian cultural traditions.
Since the late nineteenth century, Chilean culture has also been nurtured by the arrival of a large group of immigrants, mainly Germans, British, French, Italians, Croatians, Palestinians, and Jews. Today they fill leading positions in academic and cultural circles as well as within the country's political leadership. Nevertheless, many Chileans are often not even aware of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and they firmly embrace the dominant culture of mainstream society.
Chilean culture is located within the confines of the Republic of Chile, although today some , Chileans are living abroad. Most of them left the country since the mids as a result of the political and economic hardships of the military regime that ruled from to Chile is a large and narrow strip situated in southwest South America, bounded on the north by Peru, on the east by Bolivia and Argentina, and on the west and south by the Pacific Ocean.
Formidable natural barriers mark present-day Chile's boundaries, isolating the country from the rest of South America. To the north the arid Atacama Desert separates it from Peru. The high Andes peaks constitute its natural frontier with Bolivia and Argentina. To the south, the cold waters of the Drake Sea announce the nearness of Antarctica. To the west, Chile looks at endless masses of the South Pacific water. Between the huge Andes Mountains to the east and the lower Coastal mountains to the west is the great Central Valley, which extends from Salamanca, north of Santiago, for over miles 1, kilometers south to Puerto Montt.
The country has a total area of , square miles , square kilometers. Chile's geographical shape is quite peculiar. Chile has a longitude of 2, miles 4, kilometers making of it one of the longest countries in the world. This is in dramatic contrast with the country's average width, which does not exceed miles kilometers. In some places Chile is so Chile narrow that the Andes peaks of its eastern border can be seen from the Pacific coastline.
Its length explains the great variety of climates and regions one can find from north to south. While the northern region is extremely dry including the great Atacama Desert and numerous places where no rain has ever been recorded , the central region is a fertile area with a mild climate. The southern region by contrast is chilly and rainy, having icy fjords and glaciers at the southernmost tip.
The capital city, Santiago, is located in the central region and constitutes the political, cultural, and economic center of the country, and the homeland of the historically dominant Central Valley culture. Chile is administratively divided in twelve regions subdivided in thirty-one provinces and a metropolitan region that includes the capital city. Chile has a population of 15,, inhabitants from a June estimate with an annual growth rate of 1. The national population density is Almost six million people live in the metropolitan region of Santiago, while the northern and southern regions are sparsely populated.
Most Chileans 84 percent reside in urban areas, while the rest live in an increasingly urbanized rural environment. As of , life expectancy at birth was seventy-two years for males and seventy-eight years for females, while the infant mortality rate was ten per thousand live births.
The majority of Chileans 65 percent are of mixed European-indigenous descent "mestizos," though this term is not in use in Chile.
Some 25 percent of Chileans are of European ancestry mainly from Spanish, German, Italian, British, Croatian, and French origins, or combinations there of. Chile also has a large Palestinian community some , persons, the largest outside Palestine. The indigenous population represents some 7 percent of the population. There are about , Mapuche Indians in Chile, constituting the country's largest Native American population.
Since the late s, the country's economic prosperity and sociopolitical stability have attracted an increasing number of immigrants from Korea and from other Latin American countries largely from Peru, Argentina, and Cuba. The official language of Chile is Spanish castellano as Chileans call it , which is spoken by practically all the country's inhabitants.
In Eastern Island the two thousand native inhabitants speak their own language of Polynesian origin. Chileans of foreign ancestry do sometime also speak their mother tongue but do so almost exclusively in the intimacy of their home.
One of the most spectacular expressions of the existing cultural homogeneity is the relative absence of recognizable regional accents, despite the country's extreme geographic length. For instance, the differences in accent between middle-class Chileans from Antofagasta, Santiago, Valdivia, and Punta Arenas are almost inaudible. The national coverage of many Santiago-based radio and television stations also helps to homogenize Chilean Spanish.
In contrast, there are in Chile very sharp accent distinctions among the different social classes. Chilean Spanish is quite characteristic and is immediately identified in other Latin American countries for its distinctive "melody. They also often add the suffix —"ito" or —"ita" meaning "little" to the end of words. In addition, Chilean speech contains many words adopted from the Mapuche language as well as much chilenismos Chilean slang.
The national flag and the national anthem are the two most important symbols of national identity. The flag consists of two horizontal bands of white above and red below , representing, respectively, the Andean snow and the Indians' blood fallen in their heroic struggle against the Spanish invaders. The flag also has a blue square at the hoist-side end of the white band with a white five-pointed star in the center. The blue represents Chile's clear blue sky while the white star was the Araucanian Indians coat of arms used in their battlefield banners.
The national day, 18 September, commemorates the country's declaration of independence from Spain, in This is a day of celebration and national unity in which Chileans enjoy traditional food and folklore-type music and honor the martyrs of independence.
During that day Chileans visit fondas traditional palm-roofed shelters where they eat empanadas meat pastries , drink Chilean red wine, and dance the cueca, the country's national dance. In the days surrounding this festivity children, adolescents, and their fathers fly kites in public parks.
During "the 18" as Chileans call it, numerous expressions of Chilean culture are proudly praised by the entire nation. A special symbol of the culture is the figure of the huaso the Chilean cowboy , who is dressed Seville style with a flat-topped hat, colorful short-cropped poncho or manta, and shiny high-heeled boots with large spurs, and is present everywhere during the national celebrations.
Another important symbol is the figure of the roto chileno, a poorly educated and clothed lower class Chilean who has a great sense of humor and is also smart and courageous. The roto represents the humble Chileans who fought against the Spanish rule and later against the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation.
The country's geographical isolation and remoteness the idea of living at "the end of the world" represents a major symbol of national identification. Many Chileans almost glorify the country's physical isolation, as they consider it a key factor in allowing the creation of a homogeneous society. This isolated geography is symbolized in the national imagery by the impressive Andes. Another key element in the generation of a national cultural identity is the idea that Chileans descend from a perfect blend of two exceptional people: The Basks represent perseverance and a high working ethos.
They populated the Chilean territory in significant numbers and worked the land with their own hands under difficult conditions and in a permanent state of war with the native population.
On the other hand, Chileans are also proud of descending from the brave and indomitable Araucanian Indians. Representing the sole exception in Latin America, the Araucanians successfully resisted Spanish attempts to conquer their territory for more than three centuries. Climate also plays an important role in the construction of the national cultural identity.
Many Chileans believe that the existence of cold winters in their country shaped a laborious and foreseeing people. In the same vein, Chileans generally dislike and distrust everything that can be cataloged as "hot," "tropical," or "exotic"; they assume these elements encourage laxity and indolence and hence consider them synonyms for underdevelopment.
History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation. The emergence of the Chilean nation is intimately related to the cultural and social features of the country's rural society. This evolved in the Central Valley since the late colonial period. A land aristocracy of Bask-Castilian lineage succeeded in creating a well-established social order within the confines of their huge estates haciendas. Living often for generations in the same haciendas, Chilean peasantry largely of mestizo backgrounds evolved into a submissive and loyal class towards their "patrons.
During the rest of the nineteenth century, war functioned as a successful mechanism in strengthening the sense of nation and the cultural unity among Chileans. In the years —, Chile fought a successful war against Peru and Bolivia.
But what certainly represents the most important landmark in the nation-building process is the War of the Pacific — in which the Chilean army defeated the allied forces of Peru and Bolivia.
This victory led to the annexation by Chile of huge territories in the north that had belonged to the two defeated nations. Following this victory the Chilean army was sent to the southern region to crush the resistence of the Araucanian Indians and integrate their homeland in the Chilean national territory.
In the nineteenth century, while most Latin American countries were submerged in endless civil wars and constant social upheaval, Chile was a relatively prosperous nation with stable constitutional governments. The Chilean nation became highly respected in the rest of the continent and Chileans soon fully realized their country was in many aspects an honorable exception in this restless part of the world.
This idea of representing an exception has heavily nurtured the sense of nation among Chileans and has helped them to differentiate themselves from the neighboring countries. For instance, they strongly criticized the country's Spanish cultural legacy.
They saw in it the source of many national characteristics they rejected, such as the strong political and religious conservatism existing among the country's elites. They instead sought inspiration in the cultural experience of industrious nations such as Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States.
In the meantime, however, the Chilean state substantially expanded public education and academic formation, which served to disseminate national values and to fortify the sense of national identity among the population. While Chilean elites were conservative in political and religious matters, they adopted technical and scientific knowledge coming from Europe.
They actively attracted many men of science from European nations to improve the Chilean educational system and the country's cultural development in general. Chilean national identity has thus been constructed in the shadows of European progress. Chileans have always been more preoccupied in trying to follow the pace of cultural and scientific transformations in Europe and the United States often unsuccessfully than in comparing themselves with neighboring countries and realities.
During the last two decades, as a result of the outstanding performance of the Chilean economy, the country is close to shedding its status as a Third World nation. The strong insertion of the country into the world economy in the last two decades has enormously enlarged the awareness among Chileans of a collective entity "us" that competes in a larger global environment with other nations.
On the other hand, the national identity experiences a clear schism when Chileans are confronted with the recent authoritarian past and the figure of General Augusto Pinochet. With respect to this issue, Chile continues to be divided into two fronts, with supporters and opponents of the former dictator constantly accusing each other of being "anti-patriotic" and of not defending the real interests of the nation. The facts that most Chileans are of mixed ancestry and that the country has a high degree of cultural homogeneity have prevented the germination of open hostilities between the nation's different ethnical groups.