The most densely populated area is the greater Santiago de Chile area. The city has 5.5 million residents.
The residents of Chile are made up of different nations as well as Chileans who have European ancestry. Chile’s population is dominated by mestizos – a result of mixed marriages of the Spanish colonizers and the native Indians. The pure-bred Indian tribes are the Aymara in the north and the Mapuche in the forested regions of the lakes district.
The first German speakers arrived in 1843 and settled mainly in the area around Lake Llanquihue and in Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt. The population share of Germans or people of German origin is around 200,000 today. German is only spoken sporadically in the south of Chile. There are therefore German schools, sports clubs and hospitals there.
Other immigrants came from France, Italy, Croatia and Palestine or the Middle East.
The official language is Spanish, although the Spanish spoken in Chile has a strong regional color.
English is not widely spoken. In the south of Chile (regions IX and X) German is also spoken sporadically. The best-known indigenous language is Mapudungun of the Mapuche in southern Chile, Aymara are also widespread in northern Chile and Rapanui on Easter Island.
In the 2002 census, 7,853,000 respondents (69.96%) counted themselves as belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. About 15% of Chileans belonged to Protestant denominations. Furthermore, 8.3% attributed themselves to agnosticism and others to Indian shamanism (the latter is only represented among indigenous people). Smaller faiths are the Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.4%), the Mormons (0.92%), Jews (0.13%) and others.
The culture of Chile has been heavily influenced by Europe. In the early 19th century, many English, Irish and German settlers emigrated to Chile. Many intellectual Chileans have been educated in Paris for centuries and their influence can be seen in all areas of culture. Important art galleries, museums and a lively theater scene are the result.
In Chile there is a wide range of very beautiful handicrafts, for example jewelry made of silver and lapis lazuli, wooden objects, woven blankets, scarves and ceramics.
The television channels’ programming is mostly shallow entertainment (shows, US films, TV series) as well as sports coverage, political broadcasts, nature documentaries, and cultural programs (the latter are few and far between but are often of surprisingly good quality). The messages don’t start until 9 p.m. and then last about an hour.
The press landscape is largely dominated by two groups. The newspapers La Tercera and El Mercurio are compulsory reading for the Chilean people.
Important weekly magazines are Ercilla and Qué Pasa. There is a German-language weekly newspaper called Cóndor.
In Chile there are a total of 23 German schools and a few kindergartens. The German schools are spread all over the country. They are for example in Santiago (several), Arica, La Serena, Viña del Mar, San Felipe, Chillán, Los Angeles, Temuco, Villarica, Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt, Frutillar, Purranque and Punta Arenas. There are schools with a German Abitur in Santiago, Concepcion, Puerto Montt and Temuco. The school year begins in February.
English is not widely used because good language skills are only taught in private schools. Since 2002 it has been an obligation for students to be in school for 12 years. There is no teaching material.
The most important universities (e.g. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) are in Santiago de Chile, Concepción and Valparaíso. However, due to the high tuition fees, access to the universities is difficult for the poorer classes.
Homeschooling, homeschooling, free learning
An increasingly popular alternative to normal school attendance is homeschooling (home tuition or home tuition) or free learning (unschooling). In Chile, freedom of education is guaranteed by the constitution. Prior registration of home schooling is required with the Ministerio de Educación.
Regions of Chile
The I. Region (Región de Tarapacá) includes the provinces of Iquique and Tamarugal.
The II. Region (Región de Antofagasta) comprises the provinces of Antofagasta, El Loa and Tocopilla
The III. Region (Región de Atacama) includes the provinces of Chañaral, Copiapó and Huasco.
The IV. Region (Región de Coquimbo) comprises the provinces of Choapa, Elqui and Limarí.
The V region (Región de Valparaíso) includes the provinces of Los Andes, Petorca, Quillota, San Antonio, San Felipe and Valparaíso, as well as the overseas territories (e.g. Isla de Pascua etc.).
The VI. Region (Región del Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins) includes the provinces of Cachapoal, Colchagua and Cardenal Caro.
The VII. Region (Región del Maule) comprises the provinces of Cauquenes, Curicó, Linares and Talca.
The VIII. Region (Región del Bío-Bío) comprises the provinces of Arauco, Bío-Bío, Concepción and Ñuble.
The IX. Region (Región de la Araucanía) includes the provinces of Cautín and Malleco.
The X. Region (Región de los Lagos) comprises the provinces of Chiloé, Llanquihue, Osorno and Palena.
The XI. Region (Región de Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo) includes the provinces of Aisén, Capitán Prat, Coihaique and General Carrera.
The XII. Region (Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena) includes the provinces of Magallanes, Tierra del Fuego, Última Esperanza and Antártica Chilena.
The XIV. Region (Región de los Ríos) has existed since October 2nd, 2007 and is a “split” from the X. Region to improve the administration. The region includes the provinces of Valdivia (also the capital of the region) and Ranco.
The XV. Region (Región de Arica y Parinacota) includes the provinces of Arica and Parinacota.
The capital region (RM or Región Metropolitana) includes the provinces of Chacabuco, Cordillera, Maipo, Melipilla, Santiago and Talagante.