MundoAndino Home : Chile Guide at Mundo Andino

Immigration to Chile

Over the centuries, Chile has received a number of immigrants mainly from Europe followed by the Americas and Asia. Today, millions of their descendants still live in the country and are found in all areas of the community.

Much of the immigration to Chile occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries, from various foreign communities. Today, the main immigrant groups are those originating in neighboring countries, due to the interaction of its relations with Chile. The largest immigrant group is from Argentina, followed by Peru. One of the main factors that have led this migration has been the country's relatively stable political history, compared with the rest of Latin America and, more recently, the significant growth of the Chilean economy in recent decades. Similarly, immigration from other Latin American countries beyond its borders has also been of great importance. For example, one of the founders of the famous Universidad de Chile, was the Venezuelan Andres Bello. Copper and nitrate mines in the Atacama depend on Bolivian contract workers from neighboring Bolivia.

In addition to migration from other former Spanish colonies during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, a number of settlers from Europe came from Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland) and refugees from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

Maritime commerce prompted the creation of British, French, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Portuguese and Scandinavian settlements. The Syrians and Lebanese arrived in large number in the 1920s.

Ethnic groups immigrating from Eastern Europe include the Jews, the Roma people and a large Armenian community. Even North American and Australian immigrants are present in the national immigration records.

Today, the principle immigrant groups correspond to the countries bordering Chile. The largest colony is the Argentine, followed the Peruvian. One of the principle factors producing this immigration has been the important growth of the Chilean economy during the past decades. Immigration from other Latin American countries has also been important.


Immigration to Chile during the 16th and 17th centuries was primarily from Castile and Extremadura from Spain. In the 18th century, Spaniards of Basque origin arrived, and thanks to the smuggling of clothing and furniture, numerous British and French families also settled in Chile. Independence brought European soldiers and merchants-especially Englishmen, Italians, Irishmen, and Frenchmenwho supported the struggle and settled there.

During the 19th century, local governments in Germany, Britain, Italy, Holland, Croatia, Switzerland, and France sponsored immigration. Equally important, maritime commerce in the ports spurred the establishment of the English, French, and Italians. A number of settlers of Palestinian origins would become important in the early 20th century, and they formed the largest Palestinian colony outside of the Middle East. Also coming in the early 20th century were Spaniards fleeing the Spanish Civil War.

European immigration

An important ethnic group(s) in the construction of Chilean society has been the immigrants originating from Europe. Since Independence and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, new groups of European immigrants arrived in Chile, principally being from: Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Croatia, The Netherlands, Russia, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Armenia, Poland, and Hungary, among other countries. Also from Europe came Ashkenazi Jews, who were scattered throughout many European countries. All of these immigrant groups had an important social, cultural, and economic impact on the country. The immigrant communities were distributed throughout the territory. Thus, those of German origin have a great influence in the regions of Araucania, Los Rios, and Los Lagos; Croatians in the cities of Antofagasta and Punta Arenas; and the British in Santiago, Punta Arenas, Valparaiso, and in other coastal cities due to their close relationship with the Chilean Navy.

Although the majority of European-origin immigrants came from Western Europe, there exist certain communities of smaller significance whose members come from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, arriving in Chile primarily to escape persecutions against them during the first half of the 20th century. Those immigrants coming from Eastern Europe were principally Jews arriving in the mid-20th century and coming from the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Czechoslovakia. They arrived in Chile escaping Nazism and Communism between the 1930s and 1950s.

In the same way, some immigrants from the Caucasus, principally from Armenia, established themselves in Chile during the first decades of the 20th century due to the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Ottoman Empire in some Eastern areas of Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon.

The largest ethnic group in Chile arrived from Spain and the Basque regions in the south of France. Estimates of the number of descendants from Basques in Chile range from 10% to as high as 27% .

vascos Ainara Madariaga:

Autora del estudio "Imaginarios vascos desde Chile La construccion de imaginarios vascos en Chile durante el siglo XX".

Contacto Interlinguistico e intercultural en el mundo hispano.instituto valenciano de lenguas y culturas.Universitat de Valencia Cita: " Un 20% de la poblacion chilena tiene su origen en el Pais Vasco"''.

In 1848 an important and substantial German immigration took place, laying the foundation for the German-Chilean community. Sponsored by the Chilean government for the colonization of the southern region, the Germans , strongly influenced the cultural and racial composition of the southern provinces of Chile.

Other historically significant immigrant groups include: Croatia whose number of descendants today is estimated to be 380,000 persons, the equivalent of 2.4% of the population. Other authors claim, on the other hand, that close to 4.6% of the Chilean population must have some Croatian ancestry . Over 700,000 Chileans may have British origin. 4,5% of Chile's Population., Chileans of Greek descent are estimated 90,000 to 120,000. Most of them live either in the Santiago area or in the Antofagasta area. Chile is one of the 5 countries with the most descendants of Greeks in the world.. The descendants of Swiss add 90,000, an estimated that about 5% of the Chilean population has some French ancestry.

and 600,000 to 800,000 Italians. Other groups of European descendants have followed, but are found in smaller numbers. They did transform the country culturally, economically and politically.

European immigration, and to a lesser degree from the Middle East, produced during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries large "waves" in America. After the Atlantic coasts of the Southern Cone , Chile was the most significant Latin American destination and was favored mainly by the intense traffic through the extreme south of the country until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1920, although other groups came from Argentina across the Cordillera.

German Immigration

The origin of the massive immigration of Germans to Chile is found in the so-called "Law of Selective Immigration" of 1845. The "law's" objective was to bring middle and upper-class people to colonize regions in the south of Chile, between Valdivia and Puerto Montt. More than 6,000 families arrived in Chile during this period alone.

The German immigrants succeeded in creating vigorous villages and communities in virtually uninhabited regions, completely changing the lanscape of the southern zones. Carlos Anwandter left evidence of this great spirit of building, proclaiming to all the colonists: We will be Chileans, as honorable and hardworking as ever there were, we will defend our adopted country united in the ranks of our new compatriots, against all foreign oppression and with the resolve and fortitude of the man that defends his country, his family, and his interests. This country that we have adopted as sons will never have reason to repent of its enlightened, humane, and generous gesture... (18 November 1851).

Later years brought a new, great wave of German immigrants who settled throughout the country, especially in Temuco, Santiago, and in the country's principal commercial zones. During World War II, many German Jews settled in Chile, fleeing the Holocaust. After the war, many leaders and collaborators from Nazi Germany sought to take refuge in the southern region of the country, fleeing justice against them. Paul Schafer even founded Colonia Dignidad (Dignity Colony), a German enclave in Region VII, where human rights violations were carried out.

Among many distinguished descendants of the Germans in Chile are counted the commander Fernando Matthei Aubel, the architect Mathias Klotz, tennis players Gabriel Silberstein and Hans Gildemeister, the athletes Sebastian Keitel and Marlene Ahrens Ostertag, the musicians Patricio Manns and Emilio Korner, the economist Ernesto Schiefelbein, the politicians Miguel Kast and Evelyn Matthei, the entrepreneurs Jurgen Paulmann and Carlos Heller, the painters Uwe Grumann and Rossy Olckers, television presentors Karen Doggenweiler and Margot Kahl, writer Cesar Muller, and the actors Gloria Munchmeyer, Antonia Zegers, Aline Kuppenheim, and Bastian Bodenhofer.

It is difficult to tabulate the full number of German descendants in Chile today because of the large quantity of time that has passed and because they have mixed with the Chilean population for more than 150 years. Because many areas of the Chilean South are sparsely populated, the traces of German immigration are rather obvious. In reality, the descendants of these first immigrants mostly live in the big cities. According to the 2002 census, approximately 6,000 German immigrants resided in Chile at that time.

Austrian Immigration

The first Austrian immigrants that arrived in Chile were Tyrolean refugees in Prussian Silesia, who had taken advantage of the same immigration opportunities given the German population by the Chilean state in accordance with the "Law of Selective Immigration" of 1845. These immigrants settled, almost in totality, on the banks of Lake Llanquihue. In 1875, Austrian colonists from Bohemia founded Nueva Braunau near Puerto Varas, named in honor of their previous city, "Brumov" in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Austrian immigration continued during the entire period between the wars. Beginning in 1938, Chile became the destination of many Austrian emigrants of Jewish origins abandoning the country after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. In 1940, in Santiago, Austrian immigrants founded the association Austria Libre (Free Austria), which quickly counted 2,000 members and was in contact with other Austrian groups in exile in the Americas. Iin 1943, Austria Libre incorporated into the Comite Central Austriaco de America Latina (Central Austrian Committee of Latin America) with its headquarters in Montevideo.

It is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 Austrians settled in Chile over the course of the 20th century. According to the 2002 census, 576 Austrian immigrants resided in Chile at that time.

British and Irish Immigration

Since the Port of Valparaiso opened its coasts to free trade in 1811, the English began to congregate in Valparaiso. The first to arrive brought with them tools, articles of china, wool and cotton, with instructions to return with copper and hemp. This was the first exchange of what would become a deep-rooted commercial relationship between Great Britain and Chile.

In Valparaiso they constructed their largest and most important colony, bringing with them neighborhoods of British character, schools, social and sports clubs, business organizations, and periodicals. Even today their influence is apparent in unique areas, such as the bank and the national marina, as well as in certain social activities, such as football (soccer), horse racing, and the consumption of tea.

The English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish eventually numbered more than 32,000 during the port of Valparaiso's boom period during the saltpeter bonanza at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The British colonial influence is important to understanding the boom and bust of the port of Valparaiso.

The English colony was also important in the northern zone of the country during the saltpeter boom, in the ports of Iquique and Pisagua. The King of Saltpeter, John Thomas North, was the principle backer of nitrate mining. The British legacy was reflected in the streets of the historic district of the city of Iquique, with the foundation of various institutions, such as the Club Hipico (Racing Club). Nevertheless, said presence came to an end with the saltpeter crisis during the 1930s.

An important contingent of British immigrants, principally Welsh, also settled in the present-day region of Magallanes. In the same way, they established British families in other areas of the country, such as Santiago, Coquimbo, the Araucania, and Chiloe.

Today the descendants of British and Irish immigrants are found dispersed throughout the entire nation. Well-known descendants of the British and Irish colonies include: Patricio Aylwin, Gustavo Leight, Alberto Blest Gana, Joaquin Edwards, Carlos Condell de la Haza, Juan Williams, Patricio Lynch Solo de Zaldivar, Jorge O'Ryan, Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna, Bernardo Leighton, Enrique Mac Iver, and Bernardo O'Higgins.

British descendants in Chile are estimated to number between 350,000 and 420,000 people. According to the 2002 census, 1,815 immigrants from Great Britain and 140 from Ireland resided in Chile at that time.

Croatian Immigration

One of the most important groups of European immigrants in Chile is the Croatians, whose number of descendants today (2009) is estimated to be 380,000 persons, the equivalent of 2.4% of the population. Other authors claim, on the other hand, that close to 4.6% of the Chilean population must have some Croatian ancestry . Outside of Bosnia, Chile is the second-ranked country in the world for number of Croatian descendants.

The first Croatian immigrants came from the region of Dalmatia, arriving in the mid-19th century in escape from the wars unleashed in that region or from pestilence on the islands in the Adriatic Sea. The major concentrations of Croations can be found in Santiago, Antofagasta, and Punta Arenas, but a large concentration also exists in Vina del Mar, Porvenir, and La Serena. Many descendants of Croatian immigrants who settled in the north and south of Chile later moved to the capital.

Arturo Givovich is considered to be the first Croatian in Chile, having arrived in the 17th century on an English pirate ship belonging to Sir Francis Drake. Givovich jumped ship in Chile, abandoning the Navy and staying on land for the sake of love. In the mid-19th century, three sailors from the Dalmatian-Croatian coastAntonio Letic, Antonion Zupicic, and Esteban Costa (Kosta)were hired by the Chilean Navy and sent to the Straits of Magellan. They arrived in October 1843 with a relief and resupply mission for Fort Bulnes, which had been erected only months before.

Without a doubt, the lion's share of Croatian immigrants totaling approximately 58,000 arrived in Chile in the decades spanning the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, up until World War I. Consequently, the Croatian colony in Chile was officially considered Austro-Hungarian.

The Croatian immigrants dedicated themselves to business. In Punta Arenas, they dedicated themselves to the estates, or the exploitation of gold, that is primarily found in Canon Baquedano. In the north of Chile, they dedicated themselves to the exploitation of saltpeter. Various institutions created by the Croatian colony have persisted, such as clubs, schools, stadiums, gymnasiums, charity institutions, among others. The cities of Punta Arenas and Antofagasta are sister cities of the city of Split in Dalmatia.

Croatian immigration in Punta Arenas was a crucial development in the region of Magallanes and the city in particular. Currently, you can see this influence in the names of shops and many buildings. According to some references to 50% of the population of Punta Arenas would be descendants of Croats.

Dutch Immigration

In 1600 , the Chilean city of Valdivia was conquered by Dutch pirate Sebastian de Cordes. He left the city after some months. Then in 1642 the VOC and the WIC sent a fleet of some ships to Chile to conquer the city of Valdivia and the goldmines of the Spanish. The expedition was conducted by Hendrik Brouwer, a Dutch general. In 1643 Brouwer conquered the Chiloe Archipelago and the city of Valdivia. Brouwer died on the 7th of August of 1643, and the vice-general Elias Herckmans took control.

The second emigration from the Netherlands to Chile was in 1895. The so-called "Inspector General of Colonization and Chilean Immigration" a dozen Dutch families settled between 1895 and 1897 in Chiloe, particularly in Mechaico, Huillinco and Chacao. In the same period Hageman Egbert arrived in Chile. with his family, 14 April 1896, settling in Rio Gato, near Puerto Montt. In addition, family Wennekool which inaugurated the Dutch colonization of Villarrica.

In the early twentieth century, arrived in Chile a large group of Dutch people from South Africa, which had been established where they worked mainly in construction of the railway. When the Boer War, which would eventually lead to the British annexation of both republics in 1902, these emigrants decided to return to their country of origin, many of them, after a long stay in camps. Shortly after his return to the Netherlands, were presented with the opportunity to emigrate to Chile with the help of the Chilean government.

On 4 May 1903, a group of over 200 Dutch emigrants sailed on the steamship "Oropesa" shipping company "Pacific Steam Navigation Company, from La Rochelle (La Pallice) in France. The majority of migrants were born in the Netherlands: 35% was from North Holland and South Holland, 13% of North Brabant, 9% of Zealand and equal number of Gelderland. Only a dozen children had been born in South Africa . Among the emigrants was a small group of singles, but the others were all married couples with children (some even had 5 children).

On June 5, arrived by train to their final destination, the city of Pitrufquen, located south of Temuco, near the hamlet of Donguil. Another group of Dutchmen arrived shortly after to Talcahuano, in the "Oravi" and the "Orissa". The Netherlands colony in Donguil was christened "New Transvaal Colony. There were established more than 500 families in order to start a new life. Between 7 February 1907 and February 18, 1909 above the last group of families Boers.

It is currently estimated at about 50,000 descendants of Dutch, mostly located in Malleco, Gorbea, Pitrufquen, Faja Maisan and around Temuco.

Spanish Immigration

Clearly, Spanish immigration was the most important during the colonial period. Since Chile became an independent republic, Spanish immigration is estimated at 40,000 people settling between 1880 and 1940. The Spanish Civil War spurred some 3,000 people to immigrate to Chile at the end of the 1930s, primarily being Catalan and Basque. The majority embarked for Chile on the ship Winnipeg thanks to Pablo Neruda, the Chilean delegate sent to France to take care of the pertinent negotiations. Almost 11,000 Spaniards also arrived in Araucania between 1883 and 1901, after the Occupation of Araucania. These colonists were given lands in the Chilean Central Valley and their descendants are principally found in Temuco, Concepcion, and Ercilla.

Today, the Spanish colony continued to be the most significant in the country, having its own football (soccer) club, Union Espanola and more than 80 institutions of varying purpose throughout Chile . It is estimated that some 400,000 Chileans are descendants of Spanish immigrants who came to Chile during the 20th century, more than 100,000 descending from the Spanish who settled in Auracania. According to the 2002 Census, 9,531 Spanish immigrants resided in Chile at that time.

Basque Immigration

Forms a regional immigration corridor between Spain and Chile, one that is large, visible, and continues over time. Basque immigration can be divided into historical periods: discovery, foundation, and colonial period; the wave of immigration of the 18th century; and the recent immigrants (19th and 20th centuries). The differences from other regions originate with the group that arrived between 1750 and 1800 as traders. These Basque immigrants began to prosper and married the daughters of the old commissioned officers who originated in the south of Spain, making them landlords of economic, social, and political power. This has given them a certain preeminence.

The Basque presence in Chile began in the conquistador period, for in the armies of the first colonizers came a contingent from the Basque Provinces and from Navarra. In the 16th century, of the 157 Peninsular families that settled in Chile, 39 had Basque surnames. This number progressively grew, as reflected in the number of governors of Basque origin.

During the 18th century, the country experimented with a mass immigration coming from the Basque provinces and Navarra, by the end of the 18th century comprising 27% of the Chilean population. This raised the Basques to being the most important regional group in the population, displacing the natives and descendants of those born in New Castile, Old Castile, and Andalucia. These immigrant families initially dedicated themselves to their preferred form of business, and in successive years produced many alliances with families of Castilian origin possessing lands and titles, giving birth to a new social group known in Chilean history as the "Castilian-Basque Aristocracy."

In the second half of the 19 century came a new wave of Basque immigration, this time as much from the Spanish regions as the French. This migratory flood extended, with varying intensity, almost until the end of the Spanish Civil War.

To describe the Basque-Chilean relationship, we cite Miguel de Unamuno, who said: "There are at least two things that clearly can be attributed to Basque ingenuity: the Society of Jesus and the Republic of Chile."

The largest ethnic group in Chile arrived from Spain and the Basque regions in the south of France. Estimates of the number of descendants from Basques in Chile range from 10% to as high as 27% .

French Immigration

Figures estimates speak that about 5% of the Chilean population has some French ancestry.

The French came to Chile in the 18th century, arriving at Concepcion as merchants, and in the mid-19th century to cultivate vines in the haciendas of the Central Valley, the homebase of world-famous Chilean wine. The Araucania Region also has an important number of people of French ancestry, as the area hosted settlers arrived by the second half of the 19th century as farmers and shopkeepers. With akin Latin culture, the French immigrants quickly assimilated into mainstream Chilean society.

From 1850 to 1900, around 25,000 Frenchmen immigrated to Chile. 80% of them were coming from Southwestern France, especially from Basses-Pyrenees (Basque country and Bearn), Gironde, Charente-Inferieure and Charente and regions situated between Gers and Dordogne.

In World War II, a group of over 10,000 Chileans of French descent, the majority have French relatives joined the Free French Forces and fought the Nazi occupation of France.

The current president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet is of French origin. Former dictator Augusto Pinochet is another Chilean of French descent. A large percentage of politicians, businessmen and professionals in the country are of French ancestry.

Greek Immigration

The greek community in Chile are estimated to number from 90,000 to 120,000 and reside either in the Santiago area or in the Antofagasta area, mostly. Chile is one of the 5 countries with the most descendants of Greeks in the world.

The Greek community has great importance in Chile. The first immigrants arrived during the sixteenth century from Crete, so named "Candia" in honor of the island's capital, the current Heraklion. The surname, although at present, is very disconnected from its ancient origins. The majority of Greek immigrants arrived in Chile at the beginning of century, some as part of their spirit of adventure and escape from the rigors of the World War and the catastrophe of Smyrna in Asia Minor, although many Greeks had already settled in Antofagasta, a city in northern Chile, including crews of the ships commanded by Arturo Prat for the Pacific War (1879-1883) in naval battle of Iquique (boatswain Constantine Micalvi). It is very likely that the good climate of the area has been a major attraction for immigrants Greeks. However, the chronicles of the time show that most attracted by the reputation he had acquired the northern Chilean operation of salt and the wealth they had in the country.

According to El Mercurio of Antofagasta, between the years 1920 and 1935 there were about 4,000 Greeks in the city and other 3,000 in offices saltpeter.

The majority of Greek immigrants arrived in Chile at the beginning of the twentieth century for his spirit adventurer. However, the chronicles of the time show that most attracted by the reputation he had acquired the north by the operation of nitrate. The country was plunging into an economic boom that lasted a very large period in which the Chileans did not pay taxes. Salitre fever attracted thousands of foreigners who came from Europe and some of the United States. The "nitrate" or city offices located close to the mineral operations were a glorious time. Furniture, curtains, carpets were imported from France or England and foreigners also imported European governesses to educate their shoots.

Amid this flood of foreigners who populated northern Chilean appeared Greece. Was an numerous Collectivite Hellenic whose records were listed in two sources. One of these was the extensive collaboration that gave the Chilean press through its pages in the newspaper El Mercurio. The other end of the fire under the rubble of the first home that housed the proto-Hellenes of Chile.

In 1926 the first women's association for excellence, filoptoxos (friends of the poor) which was chaired by Xrisi Almallotis. Since then to date there have been about four or five generations of descendants of Greeks. Some have moved south and are grouped mainly in Santiago and Valparaiso. Others returned to the motherland after the first war but most of the immigrants stayed in their new country and founded numerous Greek-Chilean families. The main member of this community the employer is Constantino Kochifas, owner of the ships Skorpios in Puerto Montt.

Italian Immigration

After independence, the Chilean government encouraged emigration italian, but without getting the results from the nearby Argentina.

However, there was a substantial flow of migration Liguria to the area of Valparaiso, which came to control 70% of the city. These immigrants founded the 'Body of Fire' (called "Cristobal Colon") of the city and its 'Italian School', whose building has been declared by the Government of Chile "Monumento Historico Nacional".

Italian Chileans along with French Chileans contributed to the development, cultivation and ownership of the world-famous Chilean wines from haciendas in the Central Valley ever since the first wave of Italians arrived to colonial Chile in the early 19th century.

At the end of the nineteenth century many Italian merchants are rooted in the northern part of Arica, where they began exploiting the rich mines of saltpetre. Meanwhile, many Italian families settled in the capital Santiago, Concepcion, Vina del Mar and Punta Arenas.

The Chilean census officially states 600,000 Chileans of Italian descent. According to other estimates, Italian Chileans reach 800,000 residents with some Chileans (distant or close) Italian ancestry, including Italo-Argentinian transplanted in Chile. One of the notable Italian influences in Chile is, for example, the sizable amount of Italian surnames of a proportion of Chilean politicians, businessmen and intellectuals, of whom a good number intermarried into the "Castilian-Basques" elites.

Although being just a fraction of the size of the migration to Argentina, Italian immigration to Chile has been present since the arrival of the first Spaniards into the country, like captain Giovanni Battista Pastene who helped Pedro de Valdivia's expedition. Thence, with akin Latin culture, Italians have helped forge the nation, with architects (Gioacchino Toesca), painters (Camilo Mori), businessmen (Anacleto Angelini), Economists (Vittorio Corbo) and statesmen (Arturo Alessandri) among other.

Russian Immigration

The first Russians came Chile in the early 19th century as part of naval expeditions circumnavigating the globe, among them captains Otto Kotsebu, Fyodor Litke, and Vasili Golovnin. However, they were just temporary visitors; the earliest Russian migrants came in 1854. The immigrants of that time belonged to different ethnic groups of the Russian Empire, particularly to minorities. Among them were seafarers and traders as well as medical professionals such as Alexei Sherbakov, who served as a surgean in the Chilean Navy during the War of the Pacific.Embajada de la Federacion de Rusia en la Republica de Chile. Los primeros rusos en Chile. In the period between World War I and World War II, political motivations for migration came to the forefront; the number of White emigres in Chile grew to about 90%. In the 1950s, their numbers were further bolstered by arrivals from among the Russian expatriate community in Harbin. The Russian Cemetery was founded in 1954 to provide a separate space for burials for the community.

Swiss Immigration

There are currently 5,000 Swiss citizens residing in Chile and 90,000 with Swiss descendants.

The number of Swiss in Chile is minor, despite having a relatively large number of members. This is because their linguistic and cultural characteristics are commonly confused with Germans, Italians and French. Swiss migration to Chile took place at the end of nineteenth century, between 1883 and 1900, particularly in the area of Araucania, especially in Victoria and Traiguen. It is estimated that more than 8,000 thousand families received grants of land.

In the nineteenth century, opening up new lands in the New World and the economic crisis in Europe that was mobilized to the most impoverished sectors of society to migrate mainly to United States in North America, Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. It was organized exodus and limited duration. As economic immigration, the State assumed a regulatory role by granting or denying requests for leave.

With regard to the interests of migrants into Chile, began formally in 1853, when they meet in Bern, capital of Switzerland, the first reports about experience colonization in the southern to Chile.

Through official reports of the Swiss Consulate in Valparaiso, highlighting the advantages or disadvantages that Chile offered to migrants in Europe.

Only 28 years after the commencement of the German colonization in the souther to Chile, the Federal Council in 1881 authorized the specialized agencies to operate in Switzerland to recruit migrants.

The Federal Council after years of examining the advantages and disadvantages that would authorize the removal of migrants, poses as a premise the assumption that the Chilean authorities insist on peace Araucania whose possession for Chileans, it was not yet in those years fully accomplished.

The first contingent departed in November 1883, would be the pilot and its success would depend on subsequent authorizations.

The first group was composed of 1311 families who landed in Chilean port, a December 19, 1883.

Between 1883 and 1886 were shipped to the territory of Araucania 12,602 people, representing 7% of emigration Switzerland overseas. The operations continued to evolve until 1890, when it recorded 22,708 Swiss in the heart of the Araucania.

Later during 1915 to 1950 was the last recorded mass exodus of Swiss to Chile recorded 30,000 residents installed in the central area of the country, primarily in Santiago and Valparaiso.

Other European Immigrants

After the end of the cold war and fall of Communism in the early 1990s, a new wave of Eastern European immigration came to Chile in addition to the rest of South America. Many came from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union such as Russia and the Ukraine.

Armenian Immigration

The community of Armenia Chile is composed of Armenian immigrants and their descendants. Most arrived in Chile produced product of genocide by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War. Many Armenians who arrived in the early twentieth century left Syria and Lebanon, then provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

The Armenian community of Chile is one of the most important in Latin America. Chile is one of the countries with largest number of Armenians descent in World.

Hungarian Immigration

In South America, more Hungarians settled in Argentina and Brazil. But Chile was a major point of passage for Hungarians to other countries in North America (the USA) and Australia. Most Hungarian immigrants to Australia from South America during the first half of the 20th century. There are around 40,000 people of Hungarian descent living in Chile, the main concentration are in Santiago.

Polish Immigration

A small number of Poles came to Chile, with first of them coming during the Napoleonic wars. In early 20th century, there were around 300 Poles in Chile. After World War II, around 4,000 Poles, mostly former soldiers, settled in Chile and in 1949 the Association of Poles in Chile was founded. An estimate of 50,000 ethnic Poles live in Chile, most live in Santiago. One of the notable Polish Chileans is Ignacy Domeyko.

American Immigration

Though during all its history, Chile has received immigrants from other American countries. The economic and political stability of the last decade has been one of the determinant factors in the growing entrance of immigrants of said origin to the country. Although the majority come from Argentina and Peru due to those countries' proximity, a good number of Bolivians, Ecuadorians, Colombians, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Mexicans, Canadians, Central Americans, Uruguayans, Cubans, Caribbean islanders, and United States citizens have also entered. They have found reception in the country, being employed in diverse branches of the Chilean economic task.

Argentine Immigration

Argentine immigration is a longstanding phenomenon that goes back to Chilean independence and the time of the Army of the Andes. The first Argentines arrived when the Organization of the Republic of Chile was launched in 1823 after Independence, as was the case with both Manuel Blanco Encalada and Bartolome Mitre. The Argentine population was always important. In the mid 1990s, when the first symptoms of the Argentine economic and social crises began to be noted, and especially when the crisis exploded at the end of 2001, it produced a mass exodus of over 100,000, such that in early 2005 they succeeded in becoming the first true foreign colony in the country.

The Argentine colony is shared between the IV Region of Coquimbo and La Araucania Region IX, and have great influence in the region of Patagonia due to the proximity of the various peoples and the disappearance of the geographic barrier of the Andes. Unlike what happens with the other American immigrants, Argentines in general are skilled professionals with a degree already earned, so in most cases, they work in better paid jobs than other Latin American immigrants and similar to the income of Chileans, or have established mainly local restaurants that are greatly accepted by nationals, making their assimilation much more easy.

Bolivian Immigration

Bolivian immigration is much more minor in comparison to the Argentine and Peruvian communities in Chile, but it is not unimportant with more than 20,000 immigrants in the year 2008. This is due primarily to the tense relations that have existed between both countries, primarily since the War of the Pacific. The continuous diplomatic conflicts between Chile and Bolivia have resulted in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries since the mid-1970s. In spite of that, thousands of Bolivians entered Chile, settling primarily in Arica and Calama during the 1960s and since the end of the 1990s in search of better economic situations.

On the other hand, it is important to emphasize the immigration of the Bolivian elite, primarily for academic ends. Many of the principle political and economic figures in Bolivia have studied in Chile for a great part of their lives.

Ecuadoran Immigration

In reality, approximately 15,000 Ecuadorans live in Chilean territory, a number that has risen exponentially during the late 1990s. For many years, Ecuador had been considered a friend of Chile. The Ecuadoran immigrants are largely professionals, principally in the medical fields, and skilled laborers who engage in a various trades.

Peruvian Immigration

Although Peruvian immigrants have been one of the principle groups of Latin American origin that have settled in Chile, their importance has risen in recent years. The ties between the two regions have been strong since the colonial period: the Kingdom of Chile first formed part of the Viceroyalty of Peru then was the Captaincy General of Chile, independent from 1798. After the War of the Pacific that pitted Chile against the Bolivian-Peruvian alliance between 1879 and 1883, Chile incorporated the Peruvian territories of the Department of Tarapaca and the provinces of Arica, Tacna (until 1929) and Tarata (until 1925). In these zones in the north of Chile, which were Chile-ized since 1910, they maintained relations primarily of an economic, cultural and even familial nature.

At the end of the 20th century, Chile's economic prosperity began to produce a rapid growth in Peruvian immigration to the central zone of the country. Although many Peruvian immigrants were professionals and held important positions in companies, the majority were of low socioeconomic origin in search of new opportunities for their families. Consequently, they took low-paying positions in the beginning, such as as laborers or domestics, and sent their small remittances to their families in their home countries. Many of these immigrants also entered the country illegally. Nevertheless, the Asian financial crisis that affected Chile beginning in 1998 provoked a rise in unemployment figures, surpassing 12%, while Peruvian immigration was increasing. These events caused the public to begin discussing the situation of the Peruvian colony in Chile, with many people claiming that the immigrants were "stealing" Chilean jobs.

In reality, the Peruvian immigrants formed one of the principle foreign colonies in Chile. Some groups of Peruvians have named one of the principle locations of the Peruvian colony "Little Lima" (Pequena Lima). It is located in the vicinity of the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, which has motivated some groups to question the Chilean authorities for permitting the use of the historic district and symbol of the city by the immigrants. The number of Peruvians in Chile is estimated at 85,000, principally residing in Santiago.

North American Immigration

Americans and Canadians have long came to Chile among other South American countries. Many Chilean miners, ranchers and businessmen migrated to the United States (see also Chilean American) as well to Canada aware of the opportunities provided in North America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps a large number of Cherokee Indian descendants, a rarity among the world's demographic history for Native American populations to form a community throughout the Americas. An estimated 100,000 Cherokee descendants live in Chile, but the high rate of cultural assimilation hasn't ended the genealogical search for their roots.

Other American Immigrants

Although they do not have the importance of the aforementioned colonies, there exist an important number of immigrants coming from other countries in the Americas. According to the 2002 report of the International Organization for Migration, more than 10,000 people from the United States have immigrated to Peru, most of whom initially arrived in Chile to work for multinational corporations and possess professional degrees and are well situated economically.

According to the same report (2002), more than 9,000 Colombians, 8,900 Brazilians, and 5,000 Venezuelans had settled in Chile. These communities had arrived in the country seeking better economic and academic opportunities, but in general had assimilated into general society. They do not suffer from xenophobia and are, in the majority, well received by the Chileans and are employed in diverse labor activities and have established local businesses.

Along the same lines, more than 3,000 Cubans have settled in Chile, the majority holding professional degrees. The number of medical centers operated by Cubans has increased in the past few years and they have proven to be great successes as a result of their low costs.

Middle East and Asian Immigration

It is estimated that near the 4% of the Chilean population is of Asian origin immigrants descendant, chiefly of the Middle East , are around 800,000. Note that Israelis, both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the nation of Israel may be included.

Chile is home to a large population of immigrants, mostly Christian, from the Levant. Roughly 500,000 Palestinian descendants are believed to reside in Chile. And the effects of their migration are widely visible. The earliest such migrants came in the 1850s, with others arriving during World War I and later the 1948 Palestine war. The Club Palestino is one of the most prestigious social clubs in Santiago. They are believed to form the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world. Aside from these migrants of previous decades, Chile has also taken in some Palestinian refugees in later years, as in April 2008 when they received 117 from the Al-Waleed refugee camp on the Syria-Iraq border near the Al-Tanf crossing. The situation in Gaza has caused tensions even thousands of miles away between the Israeli and Palestinian communities in Chile.

In recent years, Chile had enlarged East Asian populations: considerably from China with a more recent wave from Japan (see Japanese Chilean) and South Korea (see Koreans in Chile). The earliest wave of East Asian immigration took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly Chinese and Japanese contract laborers. There are under 100,000 East Asians in Chile, about one percent of the population.

African immigration

From the beginning, small numbers of African slaves arrived with the Conquistadors. These slaves (and their descendants) constituted 1.5% of the national population at the beginning of the 19th century. Later on, their descendantscalled "pardos" by the Spanishwere partially "absorbed" into the general population through crossbreeding. Others became part of the Ejercito Libertador (Liberation Army) of Peru, their ethnic differences practically disappearing.

Less than 0.1 percent of Chileans have African ancestry, mostly concentrated in the province of Arica near the Peruvian border. They are descendants of imported slaves into the country in the 18th century, but slavery never became a major contributor to agricultural development in Chile unlike in other Latin American countries. A smaller wave of sub-Saharan African and Moroccan immigrants are beginning to appear in the 2000s either to study or find work, but they are minuscule in population.


Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Chilean culture or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Immigration to Chile

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009