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Culture of Chile


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The culture of Chile is one of a relatively homogeneal society where historically its geographical isolation and remoteness has played a key role. Since the times of colony the Chilean culture have been a mix of Spanish colonial elements and indigenous culture. Traditional Chilean culture is of rural and agrarian origin where horsemen, the Huasos of Central Chile, are the most emblematic symbol. While Chile has a geographically diverse territory the lifestyle of the Central Chile have not been possible everywhere and different customs exists towards the north and south of Chile. To this it must added that while some regions of Chile have very strong indigenous heritage such as Araucania Region, Easter Island and Arica y Parinacota Region other lacks indigenous peoples and other regions have noteworthy non-Spanish European immigrant heritage. However, the mainstream Chilean culture that emanates from the historical core of central Chile is of predominant Mediterranean climate rural criollo and mestizo origin.

National identity

There are different view on Chilean national identity. One view laballed as "Hispanista" (Hispanist) sees the Spanish presence in the Americas as an unifying factor across Spanish America where divided and isolated cultures had been before. Jaime Eyzaguirre a proponent of this view points out that to highlight the indigenous inheritage threatens the backbone of the Spanish speaking peoples.

Many essays and works about a national identity of Chile were written in the 1920s by several authors such as Tancredo Pinochet, Nicolas Palacios, Francisco Antonio Encina, Roberto Hernandez and Alberto Cabero. It should be noted that the concept of national identities have been disputed as a form of social construction built from above.

Hernan Godoy describes the psychological characteristics of the Chilean, and hence part of the Chilean national identity, with following words; sober, serious, prudent, sense of humor, great fear to the ridicule, servile, cruel and lack of foresight among other qualities. Jorge Larrain critics these older descriptions as "overgeneralized abstractions" impossible to apply to a whole nation.Larrain, Jorge. Identidad chilena. 2001. Editorial LOM.

Cultural expressions

Music of Chile


The national dance is the cueca (short for zamacueca'') and first appeared in 1824. Another form of traditional Chilean song, though not a dance, is the tonada. Arising from music imported by the Spanish colonists, it is distinguished from the cueca by an intermediate melodic section and a more prominent melody. In the period starting from 1930 to 1970 appears a rebirth in the interest and popularity in folk music in Chile carried out initially by groups such as Los Cuatro Huasos, who took folk songs from the Chilean country and arranged them vocally and with musical instruments. They gave several recitals in Chile and in Latinoamerica that contributed with its diffusion. Later appeared other groups such as Los de Ramon, Los Huasos Quincheros, Los Cuatro Cuartos and others who continued with this diffusion. Also appeared several Chilean folk composers such as Raul de Ramon, Margot Loyola, Luis Aguirre Pinto, Violeta Parra and others that carried out folk investigation and composed folk music that is still sung up to day. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized by the Parra family with the Nueva Cancion Chilena, which became associated with political activism and reformers like Chilean socialist Salvador Allende and his Popular Unity government. Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Los Jaivas, Inti-Illimani, Illapu and Quilapayun are performers of this music. During the military rule in the 1970s, all forms of public expression contrary to the junta were repressed, and protest songs, which were played and circulated in a clandestine manner. In the late 1980s and after the return of democracy in the 1990s, new musical bands like La Ley, Los Tres and Los Prisioneros, began to appear.

Chilean literature

Chile's most famous contributions to literature have come from Nobel Prize poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, whose homes and birthplaces are now museums that attract literary pilgrims to Chile. Neruda's Heights of Machu Picchu, Canto General and the autobiographical Memoirs are widely available in English, however Mistral's works are harder to find.

Contemporary Chilean authors have earned an international reputation in the literary world. The most famous is novelist Isabel Allende, whose House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, and Eva Luna have all been international bestsellers.

The increasingly popular Luis Sepulveda has written stylish short novels like The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, and combines travel writing with imaginative fiction in Full Circle: a South American Journey.

Jose Donoso's novel Curfew recalls the latter days of the recent military dictatorship, while Antonio Skarmeta's novel Burning Patience (drawing on Neruda's life as a Chilean icon) was the inspiration for the Oscar-winning Italian film, Il Postino (The Postman).

Chilean cuisine

Chilean cuisine rests on the variety of products due to Chile's geographical condition and seaborne nature. The cuisine arose from the fusion of traditional indigenous ingredients with Spanish culture and traditions. Further European immigration also brought with them various styles and traditions in cooking heavily influencing the cuisine of Chile such as the Italians and Germans. In the 20th century French cuisine marked an important turning point influencing culinary methods and creating a type of Criollo style that has been implemented in Chilean gastronomy. Many Chilean recipes are enhanced and accompanied by wine and Pisco. Throughout Chile each region spanning from north to south contain a variety of culinary recipes special to each location.

Arrollado de Huaso *Asado *Bistec a lo Pobre *Cazuela *Charquican *Chilenitos *Churrasco *Cola de mono *Curanto *Empanada *Ensalada a la Chilena *Humita *Manjar Blanco *Marraqueta *Mote con huesillo *Pan de Huevo *Pan de Pascua *Palta Reina *Pastel de choclo *Pebre *Porotos Granados *Sopaipilla

Film production in Chile

Domestic film production in Chile is still small but dynamic, it has been steadily growing since 1990 and the country now produces about 20 motion pictures annually. Important filmmakers include: Raul Ruiz (Palomita blanca), Miguel Littin (El chacal de Nahueltoro), Silvio Caiozzi (Julio comienza en julio), and Andres Wood with (Machuca)

Sports in Chile

Football (soccer)

The most popular and widely followed sport in Chile, and practiced by Chileans from all economic backgrounds, it is the one sport that appeals to both young and old that is the most accessible. Federacion de Futbol de Chile is the governing body of "futbol" in Chile. Practices such as "baby futbol" which is a street level scrimmage match is played on areas made of concrete. Located throughout Chile are football stadiums such as Estadio Nacional de Chile located in Santiago and where the final of the 1962 World Cup was held.


Chile practices a host of sporting events and because of its geographical location that is situated between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Skiing and snowboarding are done in between those two locations. With more than 4 thousand kilometers of mountains, Chile is known internationally as one of the world's best skiing destinations and the best of South America. This recognition is based on the excellent quality of the slopes, a top-level infrastructure, a beautiful landscape, accessibility and proximity to urban centers.

The main ski centers are located in Central Chile right in the middle of the Andes, at heights that vary from 2400 meters up to 3000 meters above sea level. These centers are the ones with the biggest skiing surfaces as well as the best supporting infrastructure.

The centers of Southern Chile are located at lower altitudes and most of them are on volcano slopes. The scenery is normally spectacular, some passing beautiful forests and some with breathtaking panoramic views.


Chile is a great destination for surfing, and from the Northern region to the Central region there are many beaches with the right conditions for the sport. It is practically possible to surf all year round except for the middle of the winter (July and August) when weather conditions are non-conducive for surfing. The water temperature fluctuates between 10 and 20C (50 and 68F).

In the North, the waves are smaller, but very forceful and between Arica and Iquique, tubes are common. The temperature of the water fluctuates between 15 and 20C (59 and 68F). Due to the difficult conditions of the Atacama Desert, there are many unexplored, quiet beaches in this area. In the Central Region the water is a little bit colder, and there are steeper shores and bigger waves.


Basketball is not highly popular in Chile, but is one sport liked by many. The NCBAOC is the official league. It stands for the National Chile Basketball Association of Chile.


Rodeo is the second most popular sport (following soccer) in Chile. It was declared the national sport in 1962. It has since thrived, especially in the more rural areas of the country. Chilean rodeo is different from the rodeo found in North America. In Chilean rodeo, a team (called a collera) consisting of two riders (called Huasos) and two horses rides laps around an arena trying to stop a calf, pinning him against massive cushions. Points are earned for every time the steer is properly driven around the corral, with deductions for faults. Rodeos are conducted in a crescent-shaped corral called a medialuna.

Comparisons and relations with other cultures

Chile is often referred to as the least Latin American country of Latin America and but the most South American one. This is partly due to fact that the music that is often perceived as typically Latin American such as, Salsa, originates in the Caribbean far away from temperate latitudes of Chile. Although this music is highly popular in Chile, Chilean musicians have not contributed to the development of these styles. Another fact is the belief that Chile has stronger ties with Europe than most other Latin American countries, with the exceptions of Uruguay and Argentina. Chilean popular culture have influenced and shows more affinity with what is typically perceived as South American one, such as football, asado barbecue and the Nueva Cancion musical movement.

Chile shares together with Peru a larger Quechua and Spanish colonial heritage, that takes expression in a large number of shared expressions and words in Peruvian and Chilean Spanish. On matters of cuisine Peru and Chile shares a large number of recipes. Peru has however in difference to Chile a large Chinese and Japanese community and is as well an Amazonian country while Chile has relatively stronger ties with Europe due to immigration and commerce.

See also


History of Chile

Archaeological sites in Chile

Latin American culture

External links

Chilean Cultural Heritage Gateway

Marian Schlotterbeck "Artists Pursue the Disappeared" The Nation, July 12, 2007.

Art and Culture - this is Chile

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