People in Chile
The majority of Chileans are whites or mestizos,
namely just under 90 percent. The Mapuche Indians count
9 percent. That corresponds to 1.5 million Mapuche. This
makes you the largest indigenous people in Chile. The
Mapuche live in the Patagonian part of Chile. Today the
city of Temuco is considered to be its center, because a
particularly large number of Mapuche live here.
The second largest indigenous group are the Aymara in
the far north on the border with Peru. About 115,000 of
them live in Chile, that is 0.7 percent of the
population. Small groups are Diaguita (45,000 people),
Quechua (the descendants of the Inca) and Colla (around
13,000 each), Rapa Nui (who live on Easter Island,
around 8,000) and Atacameño (who live in the Atacama
Desert in the north, around 6,000 ).
The southernmost Indian peoples are the Kawesqar and
the Yagan (Yámana). 1700 Kawesqar and 1200 Yagan still
exist in Chile. They used to live as sea nomads. They
carried all their possessions on their canoes. They
caught fish and seals and the women dived for clams.
They were almost wiped out by the white settlers by the
beginning of the 20th century. Many died from imported
diseases. Some indigenous peoples such as the Chango on
the northern coast or the Chono on the Taitao peninsula
in the south died out completely.
- Children: Every woman in Chile has an
average of 1.7 children. In Germany, every woman has
an average of 1.4 children.
- Urban and rural: 88 percent of all
Chileans live in cities. Incidentally, that is more
than here in Germany (75 percent). More than 6
million Chileans live in the capital Santiago. There
are also other larger cities such as Valparaíso and
Concepción. Most of the big cities are in the center
of the country.
Languages in Chile
Spanish is the official language in Chile. It is
spoken by almost all Chileans (99.5 percent). Only a
small minority still speaks indigenous languages, namely
around 1 percent of the population. The indigenous
languages include Mapudungun (the Mapuche language),
Aymara, Quechua and Rapa Nui.
Spanish in Chile
Chilean Spanish is different from the Spanish spoken
in Spain. While in Spain, for example, the c is usually
pronounced like an English th, i.e. between the teeth,
(as in the English word through ), in Chile, as in all
of Latin America, the c is spoken like a sharp s (as in
see ). This is called Seseo.
It is also typical that one always says ustedes
instead of vosotros (her). In Spanish Spanish that
would be the polite form (Siezen), in Chile and all of
Latin America you always say it when addressing several
The Voseo (use of vos instead of do for you) is not
common in Chile. So you use tu. However, the verb is
given its own form (example: tu hacís instead of tu
haces - you do, tu venís instead of tu vienes - you
come). The final s is also only breathed.
There are also deviations in vocabulary. It is said
to potatoes papas (and not patatas ) or strawberry
frutilla (and not fresa ) and Auto car (and not coche ).
This can easily lead to misunderstandings with
Mapudungun is the language of the Mapuche. Not all
Mapuche speak it, however, many speak Spanish. By the
way, you probably know a word from the Mapudungun,
namely the word poncho. It's a kind of coat that is made
from a piece of cloth and has a hole in the middle
through which you stick your head. Perhaps you have
already seen that, even with us ponchos are trendy right
now. The word poncho means "blanket" in Mapudungun.
Funnily enough, the poncho is called differently on
Mapudungun, namely makunh.
There are other words from the Mapudungun that we
also use in German. These include huemul (Andean deer),
degu (bush rat) or pudu (southern deer) - all typical
animals of Patagonia.
Mapudungun is written with Latin letters. Example:
Kim-wigka-sdugu-ken. That means: I speak a foreign
language. Incidentally, the word Mapuche means "people
of the country" from mapu (country) and ce (people).
Religions in Chile
67 percent of the population of Chile belong to the
Catholic Church, 16 percent to a Protestant church. So
83 percent of the population are Christians. 11 percent
feel they do not belong to any religion.