• Basic Facts
    Country Name:
    • Conventional long form: Republic of Chile
    • Conventional short form:  Chile

    Location:  Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru

    Population:  15,980,912

    Ethnic Groups:  White and White-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 30%, other 2%

    Languages:  Spanish

    Economy:  Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade.  In the 1990's, the democratic government of Patricia Aylwin strengthened the economic reform already in existence.  Chile; however, began to backslide due to tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check.  A drought also contributed to this backsliding.  Since 2003, Chile's economy has slowly begun to improve.  Chile signed a free-trade agreement with the U.S. in January 2004 and with China in November 2005.  Despite this, unemployment remains high.

    Industries:  copper, other minerals, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles

    Agriculture:  grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans, beef, poultry, wool, fish, timber



    Before the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule.  The Araucanian Indians inhabited central and southern Chile.  Chile declared its independence in 1810. During the War of the Pacific (1879-1884), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern lands. Salvador Allende, who lead a three-year Marxist government was overthrown in 1973.  Augusto Pinochet, the leader of a dictatorial military regime lasted until Chile became a democracy in 1990.  Chile has become a stable, democratic nation.
    Family Life

    Chilean families are very close-knit and they have a strong sense of family and of home.  The extended families often include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The elderly are respected and are cared for by their children.

    Young people in Chile generally live at home until they marry. Young men (18 or 19 years of age) are required to serve in the military for two years. Young women of the same age may volunteer for two years of military service. Chileans usually start dating in the mid-teens. Long engagements often precede marriage. Wedding ceremonies are small and simple and the wedding parties following the ceremony for relatives and friends are normally held at home.

    The father is considered to be the head of the family, but even though traditional gender roles are valued, they are no longer strictly maintained. Most Chileans live in urban areas. Almost a third of Chile's population lives in Santiago (over 4 million people). The next largest city, Concepción, has a population of fewer than 350,000 people.

    Members of the urban upper classes live in immense and spacious homes or apartments and often have servants under their employ. Because of economic problems, many members of the Chilean middle class struggle to keep up the appearance of social status. Their lifestyles are considerably more modest than those of the upper class. The poorest segments of the population often live in makeshift houses, some without running water or electricity. In the last 30 years, efforts have been made to deal with the housing shortage and to improve the living conditions of the poor.  Despite these efforts, many people still struggle to survive.
    School System
    The school system is organized so that families, teachers, foundations, and corporations have the responsibility of managing the schools.  A subsidy system finances both town schools and a high percentage of private schools.  Currently the educational system is changing.  The country now has 95% literacy rate.  100% of children have access to elementary education and 70% of children have access to education at the high school level.
    Classroom Applications
    • The diversity among Spanish speakers is great.  There are variations from country to country that are reflected primarily in pronunciation and vocabulary.  However, the dialects are similar in both structure and grammar.
    • The Spanish language is very similar to English; therefore, the students can make connections easily.
    • Due to these similarities, students may read easily and fluently.  Be aware that we must still work on comprehension.
    • Education is seen as the pathway to upward mobility; therefore, teachers are treated with high regard.
    • Many hispanic children learn best when they are in situations that provide warmth, responsiveness, and frequent attention.
    • Parents may encourage children to be responsible for their own learning and may need specific directions in order to offer help.
    • Collectivism is a fundamental Hispanic value that emphasizes the needs of a group over competition and individualism.

Last Modified on January 4, 2013