• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Culture & Identity of Chile


Chile is a country of "many"; many cultures, many classes, many roots, and many ways of life. The mountains in the country physically divide the people, allowing each group to create a new sub-culture and lifestyle. On one extreme are the Mapuche people, who live much as they have for hundreds of years as they cling to the land and what it can offer. On the other extreme are the country's economic elite, who tend to be ethnically European and live a lifestyle that reflects this heritage, often on the outskirts of Santiago. Even with the technology and transportation accessible today, Chile seems to be a country whose mountains isolated, created, or maintained the culture of every individual city, town, or village. Despite this diversity, many Chileans see their country as one that is rather homogenous ethnically and culturally.

Nearly everyone in Chile lives in a city or the suburbs today, but city expansion is often limited by the mountains. These mountains also limit where people can live as some valleys are more livable than others and farming can only be undertaken in certain regions. This has led to massive urbanization among the people, but each city seems divided from the next and many people still live in rural areas, most notably the Mapuche, who tend to live off the land in the southern part of Chile.

Most Chileans begin the day with breakfast then many of the urbanites begin their work or school day with public transportation as most workplaces and shops open at about 8:30 or 9:00 am. Schools also begin at about this time and the Chileans view education as being very important so this well-educated country is slowly becoming even better educated. Those in more rural areas may ride a bike to work or walk as cars are expensive. This education and work tend to pay off as Chile is one of the wealthiest countries in South America.

Once the family returns home for the evening or the weekend, the essence of Chile's culture is exposed. Families are very closely knit as mothers guarantee their sons are looked after until they're married and their daughters are taught to take over their role as they seek out a husband. Children often live with their parents until they marry and most social occasions are done together as a family; if dating or socializing with peers is done these friends may join the family for the day. This seems to be the greatest similarity across the ethnic Europeans in Chile, this emphasis on family and caring for one's children. Jobs, forms of entertainment, and many other aspects of culture seem to vary from town to town as fine arts are only found in some places and sports tend to dominate some sub-cultures.

Although much of Chile's population has a culture rooted in Europe, the Mapuche maintain a culture rooted in historic Chile and the Andes Mountains. The culture differs from town to town due to geographic variations, access to different forms of entertainment, accessibility to various jobs, and personal interest among others.


Most of the people of Chile are ethnically European, or at least partially European, but there are also numerous indigenous groups of people in Chile, most notably the Mapuche. Most indigenous people identify with their ethnic or linguistic group first and perhaps as a Chilean second or even third. For the ethnically European population, most people see themselves as being "Chilean" or "Chilenidad."

Most of the people who are ethnic European see themselves as "Chilean," which they define in numerous ways, including by ethnic make-up, language, citizenships, food, clothing, and other aspects of culture and lifestyle. However, the most important means of defining this term is generally not citizenship so many indigenous people who are citizens of Chile are excluded from this definition. One of the most important factors to be "Chilean" is to be ethnically European and to have a lifestyle that closer reflects Europe than it does the indigenous people. In this way most citizens of Chile either identify as being "Chilean," which is defined in cultural and ethnic terms. or they identify with their indigenous group, which is often defined in linguistic or ethnic terms, such as the Mapuche.

No matter how an individual identifies, few "Chileans" are 100% European as many have indigenous blood in them; in this way the definition of this identity has a great deal of interpretation involved as almost anyone can be included as being "Chilean" so long as they believe they are Chilean and adopt the language, customs, and culture of the country's majority. On the other hand, it is impossible to become a "Mapuche" if you are not culturally and linguistically Mapuche.

This page was last updated: November, 2013