The People of Chile - History

The People of Chile - History

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The major ethnic groups in Chile are Mestizo (mixed native American and European ancestry), which comprise 66 percent of the population; Europeans, which compromise 25 percent of the population and native American who make up 7 percent. Literacy is very high in Chile, and the majority of the people are Roman Catholic.


Population, total (millions)13.2715.3417.0618.73
Population growth (annual %)
Surface area (sq. km) (thousands)756.1756.1756.1756.7
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)17.920.622.925.2
Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)..3622.28.6
Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)
Income share held by lowest 20%
Life expectancy at birth, total (years)74767980
Fertility rate, total (births per woman)
Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19)66605440
Contraceptive prevalence, any methods (% of women ages 15-49)5661..76
Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total)9999100100
Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births)191197
Prevalence of underweight, weight for age (% of children under 5)..0.70.5..
Immunization, measles (% of children ages 12-23 months)97979393
Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group)....9695
School enrollment, primary (% gross)102.6103103.8101.4
School enrollment, secondary (% gross)748690102
School enrollment, primary and secondary (gross), gender parity index (GPI)1111
Prevalence of HIV, total (% of population ages 15-49)
Forest area (sq. km) (thousands)152.6158.3162.3180.4
Terrestrial and marine protected areas (% of total territorial area)......27
Annual freshwater withdrawals, total (% of internal resources)2.3..4..
Urban population growth (annual %)
Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita)1,0551,6401,8082,006
CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)2.513.834.234.71
Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)1,2382,4993,307..
Net migration (thousands)442164559

When seen on a map, the republic of Chile looks like a long piece of narrow ribbon on the southwestern coast of South America. Chile is a land of physical extremes. Its desert north is one of the driest places on Earth. Its windswept and rainy south is roughly comparable to the Pacific coast of Canada. Chile is bordered by Peru in the north, Bolivia in the northeast, and Argentina in the east. The Pacific Ocean shapes its western coastline. The origin of the country’s name is uncertain, but it may have derived from an American Indian word meaning land’s end. The capital and largest city of Chile is Santiago. Area 291,930 square miles (756,096 square kilometers). Population (2020 est.) 18,149,000.

Chile administers several South Pacific islands that are far to the west of its coastline. The most notable of these are the Juan Fernández Archipelago and Easter Island, which is famous for the massive stone heads that were carved many centuries ago. Chile also claims a pie-shaped slice of Antarctica, much of which overlaps with the claims of Argentina and Great Britain.

From north to south, Chile stretches more than 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers). Its narrow width is as remarkable as its length. On average, the country is only about 110 miles (180 kilometers) wide.

Chile has been a regional political power since the late 1800s. It also is a prominent cultural and economic influence. Chilean culture is a vibrant mix of its historical European and American Indian traditions. Some of its important economic products are copper, fish, and wine.

Selk’nam, the indigenous people of Chile

As I wrote earlier, Chile or rather Santiago specifically has no personality of it’s own but this pi e ce of history of Chile fascinates us. Ona people were the indigenous people of the Patagonia region in the south of Chile and Tierra del Fuego islands. (A little side note, Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago at South America’s southernmost tip, shared by Chile and Argentina. It’s known for its dramatic landscape. Isla Grande is the main island and Ushuaia is the resort town of Isla Grande. Also called “the End of the World,” Ushuaia is a gateway to the region and to Antarctica to the south. I wish we had done a side trip there)

Ona people were nomadic and relied on hunting as means of survival. They dressed sparingly even in cold climatic conditions. They didn’t have much contact with the outside world until Europeans arrived in the late 19th century. Europeans, apart from other developments set up sheep ranches on the very land that Ona people used to hunt. With little contact between Ona people and new settlers, Ona people didn’t understand private property and hunted the sheep from the ranches. This caused a huge rift between settlers and Ona people leading to one of the heinous acts called as Selk’nam Genocide. The ranch owners paid armed groups to kill each and every Ona people in revenge for poaching.

It’s absolutely sad that this tribe is extinct now. Pikka likes culture and was fascinated by a specific practise of the Ona people called the Hain ceremony which is the male initiation or passage to adulthood ceremony. In this ceremony, young men were called to a hut where they were attacked by the “spirits”, who were infact men covered in body paint and masks. It was creative in the most basic way. Geometric patterns drawn all over body with conical or geometric shaped masks, these “spirits” look more cute than scary to us. Pikka is weird like that, and is intrigued by painted, spirit inspired dress-up. One would almost think that the patterns used are contemporary because of their graphic nature and bold colours. Back to the hut, young men were to fight these spirits and unmask them. Once they found out the spirits are in fact humans, they were told the story of world related to sun and the moon. There was a lot more to the Hain ceremony than that and they lasted for days or months at a stretch.

Their story is fascinating and we wish to include something inspired from them in the future Pikkabox from Chile.

Chile History

Located along the western coast of South America and with a length that spans nearly every climate in the world, Chile is not only a great vacation destination, but it is an excellent place to brush up on a bit of South American history. This is especially true at the archeological sites, where you can learn plenty of interesting Chile facts among the ancient settlement ruins. Ruins and archeological sites mark some of the most intriguing places to visit, whether you plan to absorb a bit Chile history or just indulge in the beautiful scenery that surrounds each of these enchanting locations. From ancient villages to a great empire to the arrival of the Europeans, the history of Chile is one of the world's most diverse in terms of civilizations and people. During one of the most beautiful vacations in the world, visitors will find tons of interesting facts about Chile to bring home with them.

A very important part of the history of Chile is the origination of civilization in this part of the world. The first signs of human activity begins with the migration of indigenous people in the area they were known as the Araucanians, the largest native group in Chile, traveled and settled in family groups and small villages, using hunting and gathering skills for survival. This group of natives was also found in Southern Argentina. For a short period, the Incan Empire claimed precedence, collecting tribute in the northern territories, but the natives resisted and finally forced the Incan army out of Chile. After the onslaught of the Incas, the Araucanians managed to resist the Spanish invasion and settlements beginning in the middle of the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Because of their bold hearted actions during both invasions, the Araucanians have become icons in Chilean myths as the first national heroes.

Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to see Chile in 1520 when he crossed what is now known as the Straight of Magellan, near Tierra del Fuego and the modern city of Punta Arenas. Diego de Almagro, however, is credited with the discovery of Chile he formed an expedition into central Chile looking for gold, though they found very little. At this point, Pedro de Valdivia enters the picture of Chile history he observed another type of treasure in the land&mdashagriculture. Due to his insight, Chile played a key role in the success of the Spanish conquest and settlement of the northern part of the country, including the modern cities of Santiago and Valdivia.

Chile Map

From 1810 to 1818, Chileans fought for independence from Spain, and formally declared their independence on February 12, 1818, but it was not officially recognized by Spain until 1840. Following the declaration in 1818, struggles to create government organization ensued, and several types of administrations controlled the area over the remaining period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including conservative, liberal, parliamentary republic, presidential republic, and a military government with the collapse of democracy, again finally followed by a democratic recovery, which is what remains today.

One of the most interesting places that played a part in the history of Chile and still remains open to visitors today is Easter Island. This island is a world heritage site protected by the Rapa Nui National Park annexed by Chile in 1888 and is well known for the unique statues called Moai. Easter Island has had several names, including Polynesian names that mean &ldquoeyes that talk to the sky&rdquo and &ldquothe navel of the world&rdquo to the current Polynesian name of Rapa Nui, but the English and Spanish name, Easter Island, was coined by a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen, who stumbled upon it on Easter Sunday while in search of another island.

Visitors will find abundant interesting facts about Chile in several locations all over the country during a most beautiful vacation that will be full of spectacular scenery, adventure, and Chile history. From the political history of the cities to the geological history of the Andes and volcanoes such as Ojos del Salado, there are plenty of facts about Chile to satisfy the curiosity of any traveler.

Famous Birthdays

José de San Martín

1778-02-25 José de San Martín, Argentine General, liberated Argentina, Chile and Peru from Spanish rule, born in Yapeyú, Argentina (d. 1850)

    Bernardo O'Higgins, Chillán, Chile, South American independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule (1817-1823 Supreme Director of Chile)

José Miguel Carrera

1785-10-15 José Miguel Carrera, 1st President of Chile (1811-14), born in Santiago, Chile (d. 1821)

    Manuel Montt Torres, President of Chile (851-61), born in Petorca, Chile (d. 1880) Ignacio Carrera Pinto, Chilean war hero (d. 1882) Chris Watson, third Prime Minister of Australia (Labour Party), born in Valparaíso, Chile (d. 1941) Tomas Burgos, Chilean philanthropist (founder of Villa Lo Burgos), born in Osorno, Chile (d. 1945) Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, 19th and 25th President of Chile, born in Chillán, Chile (d. 1960) Próspero Bisquertt, Chilean composer, born in Santiago, Chile (d. 1959) Eduardo Barrios, Chilean novelist (The Love-Crazed Boy), born in Valparaíso, Chile (d. 1963) Carlos Isamitt, Chilean composer, born in Rengo, Chile (d. 1974) Carlos Dávila, President of Government Junta of Chile (1932), born in Los Ángeles, Chile (d. 1955) Gabriela Mistral [Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga], poet (Noebel Prize 1945) and diplomat, born in Vicuña, Chile (d. 1957) Joaquin Zamacois Soler, Chilean-Spanish composer, born in Santiago de Chile, Chile (d. 1976) Manuel Rojas Sepulveda, Chile, writer (Men of the South) David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican social realist painter & muralist (Lib of Chile), born in Chihuahua, Mexico (d. 1974) Domingo Santa Cruz Wilson, Chilean composer, born in La Cruz, Chile (d. 1987) Claudio Arrau, Chilean pianist (Boston Symphony Orchestra), born in Chillán, Chile (d. 1991)

Pablo Neruda

1904-07-12 Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet (Residence on Earth-Nobel 1971), born in Parral, Chile (d. 1973)

Salvador Allende

1908-07-26 Salvador Allende, President of Chile (1970-73) and the 1st Marxist to become president of a Latin American country through an open election, born in Valparaíso, Chile (d. 1973)

    Kenneth W Howell, English Anglican bishop (Chile/Bolivia/Peru) Eduardo Frei Montalva, Chilean political leader (President 1964-70), born in Santiago, Chile (d. 1982) Ramon Campbell Batista, Chilean physician composer, born in Quilpué, Chile (d. 2000) Ramon Vinay, Chilean operatic tenor, born in Chillán, Chile (d. 1996) Anacleto Angelini, Chilean businessman (d. 2007) Nicanor Parra, Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist (Defense of Violeta Parra), born in San Fabián de Alico, Chile (d. 2018)

Augusto Pinochet

1915-11-25 Augusto Pinochet, Chilean general and dictator of Chile (1973-90), born in Valparaíso, Chile (d. 2006)

    Ramón Cardemil, Chilean huaso, born in Colchagua, Chile (d. 2007) Miguel Serrano, Chilean author and diplomat Patricio Aylwin, Chilean lawyer, politician and President of Chile (1990-94), born in Viña del Mar, Chile (d. 2016) Juan Antonio Orrego-Salas, Chilean composer, born in Santiago, Chile (d. 2019) Sergio Livingstone, football player and journalist (52 caps), born in Santiago, Chile (d. 2012) Abelardo Quinteros, Chilean composer, born in Valparaiso, Chile Jose Donoso, Chilean writer (The Place Without Limits), born in Santiago (d. 1996) Agustín Edwards, Chilean media tycoon (El Mercurio), born in Paris (d. 2017) Lawton Chiles, U.S. Senator from Florida (1971-89) and Governor of Florida (1991-98), born in Lakeland, Florida (d. 1998) Orlando Letelier, Chilean economist and politician, born in Temuco, Chile (d. 1976) Víctor Jara, Chilean folk singer and activist (d. 1973) Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Chilean catholic archbishop, born in Santiago, Chile Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile Juan Downey, Chilean video artist (d. 1993) Raúl Ruiz, Chilean filmmaker (Three Sad Tigers), born in Puerto Montt, Chile (d. 2011)

Isabel Allende

1942-08-02 Isabel Allende, Chilean-American author (The House of the Spirits, City of the Beasts), born in Lima, Peru

    Luis Aravena Munoz, Chilean singer/exiled in Netherlands (d. 1991) Jaime Guzmán, Chilean politician (President of the Independent Democratic Union), born in Santiago (d. 1991) Sergio Infante, Chilean poet and writer Sergio Badilla Castillo, Chilean poet Sebastián Piñera, Chilean businessman and politician, President of Chile (2010-14, 2018-), born in Santiago, Chile Eric Goles, Chilean mathematician and computer scientist, born in Antofagasta, Chile

Michelle Bachelet

1951-09-29 Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile (2006-10, 2014-present), born in Santiago, Chile

    Ricardo Acuna, Chile, tennis star Tom Araya, Chilean-American heavy metal bass guitarist and lead singer (Slayer), born in Viña del Mar, Chile Iván Zamorano, Chilean footballer, born in Santiago, Chile Adrian Chiles, British television and radio presenter Gonzalo Lira, Chilean-American novelist Horatio Sanz, Chilean-born comedian Marcelo Salas, Chilean footballer, born in Temuco, Chile Marcelo Rios, Chilean tennis star (1995 Amsterdam), born in Santiago, Chile Sebastián Rozental, Chilean footballer Nicole, Chilean singer, born in Chile Santiago Cabrera, Venezuelan-Chilean-British actor (Isaac Mendez - Heroes), born in Caracas, Venezuela David Pizarro, Chilean footballer (Roma), born in Valparaíso, Chile Nicolás Massú, Chilean tennis player, born in Viña del Mar, Chile Cote de Pablo, Chilean American actress (NCIS), born in Santiago, Chile Fernando González, Chilean tennis player Humberto Suazo, Chilean footballer José Raúl Contreras, Chilean soccer defender (8 caps Santiago Wanderers Universidad de Chile Huachipato), born in Quilpué, Chile Mauricio Pinilla, Chilean footballer, born in San Bernardo, Chile Matías Fernández, Chilean footballer Alexis Sánchez, Chilean footballer (Arsenal, Chilean national team), born in Tocopilla, Chile Daniela Vega, Chilean transgender actress and sinnger (A Fantastic Woman), born in San Miguel, Chile


1990-04-25 HolaSoyGerman [Germán Garmendia], Chilean YouTube star (second-most subscribed channel), born in Copiapó, Chile

Famous People From Chile

Although many people from outside Chile may not know it, but the country has its fair share of famous people.

Another famous Chilean is Lautara, the Indian leader. Lautaro was a stable boy working for Valdivia. He then went on to lead his people to win against the Spanish. Lautaro's exploits have been immortalized through the epic poem of La Araucana written by Alonso de Ercilla y Zuniga, who was a Spanish soldier.

Another Chilean, who is famous, is Bernardo O'Higgins. He was one of the leaders who found for Chile's independence. O'Higgins was the son of an Irish soldier of fortune, who went on to become the viceroy of Peru.

Three famous people from Chile are Miguel Luis Amunategui, Diego Barros Arana and Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna who were all historians during the second half of the 19th century. Jose Toribio Medina was known international in a variety of fields like history, archaeology and etymology. Other famous historians from Chile include Francisco Antonio Encina, Ricardo Donoso and Arturo Torres Rioseco, who was also known as a literary critic. Then there was Benjamin Subercaseaux, who was not just a historian, but also a novelist.

Who can forget the beautiful novels written about Chile's society in the tradition of Balzac? These novels were written by Alberto Blest Gana, who was also a diplomat. Then there was Joaquin Edwards Bello, who wrote realistic novels about the urban city life in Chile. However, the best known novelist in Chile and perhaps internationally is Jose Donoso.

Chile has also contributed to the field of painting and sculpture with painters like Roberto Matta and Nemesio Antunez and sculptors like Lily Garafulic and Marta Colvin.

The highest mountain in Chile is Ojos del Salado. In fact, this mountain is the second highest in entire South America. Ojos del Salado is located to the east of the Atacama Desert, and it majestically rises above all the surrounding volcanoes. The mountain gets is name from the huge deposits of salts that exist. The salt forms lagoons that appear like eyes. The second highest peak in Chile is Monte Pissis that is located in the south of Chile. More..


Interesting Trivia: Tennis player Fernando González is the only Chilean to win gold, silver and bronze medals at the summer Olympics.

The Republic of Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Along with Ecuador, it is one of two countries in South America that do not border Brazil.

Prior to arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Chile declared its independence from Spain on February 12, 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its current northern territory. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche were completely subjugated. Although relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that blighted South America, Chile endured the 17-year long military dictatorship (1973–1990) of Augusto Pinochet that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.

Today, Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations and a recognized middle power. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD. Chile is a founding member of both the United Nations and the Union of South American Nations.

In this Country Profile

:: Background of Chile ::

Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche Indians were completely subjugated. After a series of elected governments, a three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country’s commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.

:: Geography of Chile ::

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

Geographic coordinates: 30 00 S, 71 00 W

total: 756,102 sq km
land: 743,812 sq km
water: 12,290 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gómez

Area – comparative: slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries: 6,339 km
Coastline: 6,435 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200/350 nm

Climate: temperate desert in north Mediterranean in central region cool and damp in south
Terrain: low coastal mountains fertile central valley rugged Andes in east

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m

Natural resources: copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 2.62%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.95% (2005)
Irrigated land: 19,000 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources: 922 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 12.55 cu km/yr (11%/25%/64%)
per capita: 770 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: severe earthquakes active volcanism tsunamis
volcanism: Chile experiences significant volcanic activity due to the more than three-dozen active volcanoes situated within the Andes Mountains Lascar (elev. 5,592 m, 18,346 ft), which last erupted in 2007, is the most active volcano in the northern Chilean Andes Llaima (elev. 3,125 m, 10,253 ft) in central Chile, which last erupted in 2009, is another of the country’s most active Chaiten’s 2008 eruption forced major evacuations other notable historically active volcanoes include Cerro Hudson, Copahue, Guallatiri, Llullaillaco, Nevados de Chillan, San Pedro, and Villarrica

Environment – current issues: widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions water pollution from raw sewage

Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note: strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage) Atacama Desert is one of world’s driest regions

:: People of Chile ::

Population: 16,888,760 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.3% (male 1,928,210/female 1,840,839)
15-64 years: 68.1% (male 5,751,091/female 5,744,014)
65 years and over: 9.6% (male 680,450/female 944,156) (2011 est.)

Median age:
total: 32.1 years
male: 31.1 years
female: 33.1 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.836% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 14.33 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 5.97 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
urban population: 89% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.7 years
male: 74.44 years
female: 81.13 years (2011 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 40,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA

Nationality: noun: Chilean(s) adjective: Chilean
Ethnic groups: white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)

Languages: Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 95.8%
female: 95.6% (2002 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2008)
Education expenditures: 3.4% of GDP (2007)

People of Chile

Establishing shot: Opens with a map of Chile accompanied by a voiceover that declares, “It is hard to imagine a country with a shape as peculiar as this yet, there is one.” Proceeds to compare Chile with the United States by laying map of Chile over that of U.S. First live action shot is a medium shot of a woman (Kawesqar?) bobbing on the water in a watercraft (a canoe?), looking off screen right. Shot is accompanied by voiceover: “Dark-skinned Indians whose ancestors lived here before the white man."

Named locations: Chile’s central valley, Santiago, Valdivia, rural farmland in south central chile where the Mapuche live, Tierra del Fuego, archipelago and area where Kawesqar live, Punta Arenas, Chile’s northern desert.

Major themes covered: The demography and geography, cultures and customs, history and colonization, economy and politics of Chile, including these practically-extinct oceanic people as of 1947.

Native activities shown:
Mapuche activities shown in the film: A woman riding in a carriage pulled by oxen, followed by a man who places a child in same carriage (12:06) Apparently same woman in carriage parked in front of cement building (12:15) Bald man with beard looking straight into the camera, field of what looks to be corn in the background (12:17) long shot of young woman in dirt road dressed in black shawl and traditional silver breast ornaments, which are important parts of the chamal or kepal traditional Mapuche dress for women, followed by cut to close up of the ornaments (12:25).

Mapuche activities implied or alluded to in the film: intermarriage with European settlers waging “fierce warfare” with same early settlers gradual dying out (“Today only a few thousand of the Indians are left” [12:19]).

Kawesqar activites shown in the film: Extreme long shot of Kawesqar people rowing a boat (16:07) Large family sitting together in canoe (16:09) People talking, laughing, and smoking cigarettes in canoes (16:23) Children in canoes dressed in what is apparently seal skin or leather (16:27) Woman smiling and rowing canoe with girl seated in back (19:58).

Kawesqar activities implied or alluded to in the film: settlement long before “the coming of the white man” (16:14) living their whole lives in “dugo

Individuals Named: None
Audible Native language spoken: None

Crow, Joanna. The Mapuche in Modern Chile: A Cultural History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012.

This recent study offers a cultural history of the Mapuche that includes discussions of land debates, colonization, and Mapuche politics and political identities. The focus of this book is the historical encounters and interactions between the Mapuche and the Chileans, beginning from the colonial period in the nineteenth century and proceeding right up to the present day.

Dillehay, Tom D. “Mapuche Ceremonial Landscape, Social Recruitment and Resource Rights.” World Archaeology. 22.2 (1990): 223-24.

This oft-cited article discusses the ceremonial and burial grounds in Mapuche culture, focusing especially on their construction, distribution, and history. The article situates these ceremonial and burial grounds in the shifting cultural and historical context of the Mapuche, and draws some conclusions regarding political and familial power among the Mapuche.

Faron, Louis C. The Mapuche Indians of Chile. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1986.

---. Mapuche Social Structure: Institutional Reintegration in a Patrilineal Society of Central Chile. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961.

These somewhat dated studies by Louis Faron detail the value and belief systems, customs, ceremonies and social structures of the Mapuche peoples.

Aguilera, F O. Léxico Español-Kawésqar, Kawésqar-Español: Alacalufe Septentrional. Santiago, Chile: Centro de Investigaciones Linguístico-Antropológicas Rudolf Lenz, 1976.

---. “Documenting Kawesqar, the last spoken Fueguian language.” <>. 2004.

Both of these works are concerned with explicating the structures, grammar, and usages of the unique Kawesqar language. Both works also encourage the preservation of that language, and detail the history of the preservation efforts up to the time of their publication.

---. “Los Relatos De Viaje Kawésqar, Su Estructura Y Referencia De Personas.” Magallania. 39.1 (2011): 119-145.

This more recent work focuses on some of the myths, stories and travel narratives of the Kawesqar people. Includes some very interesting translations of Kawesqar oral narratives.

Online Resources:

Chilean Bureau of Indian Affairs:

Includes information about efforts to preserve indigenous communities and to develop equitable relationships between those communities and other Chilean populations.

Official website for international Mapuche organization Mapuche International Link (MIL):

Politically-oriented website includes lots of news stories about the Mapuche plight against prejudice and injustice perpetrated by the Chilean and Argentinean governments and other groups. Focused on improving the conditions for Mapuche people around the world. Not much cultural information. Online, Spanish-language newspaper covering stories pertaining to political and cultural struggles of the Mapuche peoples.

Museo de la Patagonia Argentinean website on the Mapuche: Very informative, English-language website that includes thorough descriptions of a variety of aspects of Mapuche life, including social organization and family of the Mapuche, religious beliefs and cosmogony, and silversmithing.

Mapuche page on Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization website:

Includes statistical data on population, languages, and religions of the Mapuche. Also features a great deal of informative historical and cultural background. Also discusses current events and concerns pertaining to the Mapuche.

University of Chile’s site on the Kawesqar:

This thorough, academic, and interactive website provides a wealth of information about Kawesqar life. Topics covered include Kawesqar language, histories, and cultural practices, places where the Kawesqar currently live, Kawesqar mythology, and also analytical works about the Kawesqar. The section on cultural practices and history (, details the interactions between the Kawesqar and the Chilean government and military. The section proceeds to discuss the housing, domestic gender roles, and daily lives of the Kawesqar as they are known today. The section also endeavors to explain the ideas of property, community, and governance prevalent among the Kawesqar. The canoeing by which the Kawesqar have so often been identified is also mentioned.

Argentinean website on the Kawesqar:

Discusses some of the traditions, beliefs and customs of the Kawesqar. Emphasizes organizational and symbolic roles of family life in Kawesqar culture. Gives the typical ages at which Kawesqar individuals go through puberty get married. This article makes the point that the family is the principal model of governance among the Kawesqar, and that each family functions independently of other families or organizational institutions.

Smithsonian Institution’s page on Kawesqar:

Identifies the Kawesqar as nomadic sea-faring peoples who navigate by canoe. Also mentions that very few Kawesqar people remain, thereby making it difficult for younger generations to preserve their native culture.

New York Times article on the Kawesqar from 2004:

Focuses mostly on the dying out of the Kawesqar language, but also includes some interesting historical and cultural background.

Chile Facts | Animals in Chile

Chile is home to some animals that are almost extinct and are on the list of endangered animals, among them are the national animal, the huemul, the pudu and the puma.

Puma in Chile

Puma sightings are rare as these big cats hunt mainly at night. They live in the Chilean mountains.

The pudu is a small deer that lives in the forests of southern Chile. Pudus are the smallest deer species in the world. The tiny Darwin's frog can be found in the streams in Chile's forests. Did you know, that these frogs grow inside their father's mouth? 

Blue Whales and Macaroni Penguins can be seen off the coast in southern Chile. The penguins often slide or surf on the snow to get around as this is easier than walking!

In the Atacama desert national park, one can encounter llamas, guanacos and alpacas, and if one is lucky also chinchillas.

New study confirms ancient people of Chile died of slow poisoning from arsenic

Previous studies have established that people of numerous pre-Columbian civilizations in northern Chile suffered from chronic arsenic poisoning between 500 and 1450 AD, through consumption of contaminated water, as evidenced by traces of arsenic in the hair of mummies and in the soil. Now a new study has found evidence of arsenic poisoning across all major cultural periods in the region, spanning several millennia.

Popular Archaeology reports that James Swift of the Australian National University and colleagues from several other institutions in Australia and Chile, performed plasma mass spectrometry trace element analysis of human bone and tooth samples. The samples came from 21 burials covering the period from 3867 to 474 BP (before present) excavated at the site of Caleta Vitor on the Pacific coast of northern Chile.

Caleta Vitor, a small fishing cove of Arica and Parinacota Region in northern Chile. Credit: Llallo

The results showed that populations covering all major cultural periods in the region were exposed to elevated levels of arsenic and one third of the sample population had accumulated levels of arsenic that were indicative of chronic poisoning.

Symptoms from arsenic poisoning begin with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea, and drowsiness. As the poisoning develops, symptoms include convulsions, vomiting, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, hair loss, and stomach pain. The final result of arsenic poisoning is coma and death.

In a study conducted last year and published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists used multispectral imaging to analyze the skin, hair, and clothes, as well as the soil encrusting a 1,000- to 1,500-year-old mummy from the Tarapacá Valley in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Their tests revealed a uniform, radial distribution of arsenic in the hair. If the hair had been contaminated from arsenic in the soil, the toxic element would have only coated the surface. Analysis of the soil also revealed much lower concentrations of arsenic than that found in the hair.

The results enabled the scientists to conclude that high concentration of arsenic in the mummy's hair came from drinking arsenic-laced water and, possibly, eating plants irrigated with the toxic water.

Mummy found in Caleta Vitor, Chile. Studies on human remains in the area found evidence of arsenic poisoning. Credit: Mauricio Bugueño / Panoramio

Ground water in certain areas of the world, including Chile, have been found to have high concentrations of naturally occurring arsenic. However, lead study author of the 2014 study, Ioanna Kakoulli, an archaeological scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, explained that in Chile, sediments are also rich in arsenic because of copper-mining activities in the highlands.

However, it is not just ancient populations that were affected by arsenic poisoning. A 2007 study found that over 137 million people in more than 70 countries are probably affected by arsenic poisoning from drinking water.

Featured image: A mummy tested for arsenic poisoning. Credit: Ioanna Kakoulli, UCLA


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

Watch the video: Τα μπινελίκια στο κάθαρμα David Rockefeller, από τον Matias Rojas (June 2022).

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