A lot of things are surprising about Chile, especially its natural beauty. Relatively few people seem to be aware of just how stunning the coastal and mountain/lake landscapes can be. The same is true about Chile’s ethnicity, ancestry and culture, which is decidedly European and certainly not Mexican or Central American (e.g., the tacos and burritos in Chile might disappoint you!). Indeed, along with the other two “southern cone” countries, Argentina and Uruguay, Chile is racially far “whiter” and culturally far more European than any other place in Latin America.
That aspect of Chile is due to the fact that between 15% and 29% of its people are direct descendants of Europeans. Note that while those percentages are far higher in Argentina, and even in Uruguay, they still have had quite a significant impact on Chile. And the diversity of Europeans that have come to Chile is somewhat surprising, too. Mostly, one hears about the British and Germans who came. But there were many other sizable, important immigrant groups from places like Switzerland, Austria, Palestine, Armenia, France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Holland, Belgium and Croatia.
Chile’s New World story is not entirely different than America’s: people escaping oppression or looking for better economic opportunities. That fact is most certainly true of the vast majority of Latin American immigrants that have arrived since the 1990s, but it was also true from 1850-1950 for Eastern European Jews, Palestinian refugees, Armenian and Greek genocide refugees, German libertarians, anti-communist eastern Europeans fleeing the Soviets, Russian Molokans (non-Trinitarian Pentecostals) looking for religious liberty, persecuted Baptists seeking relief, and myriad poor central European farmers, miners or fishermen that fled their aristocratic homelands in search of peace and prosperity. Many thousands of them found a new home in Chile. The same is true for well-to-do European and Asian merchants and professional that settled in Chile, hoping to find fortune and opportunity in a new land full of natural resources.
The table below summarizes Chilean ethnicity and ancestry information. The sources of information were articles encountered on the internet, as well as Wikipedia. I found rather large differences in figures between sources, so I have reported the findings as ranges. Please do not take this article as either good history or good science. It is neither thing. The objective is to provide those interested in Chile with a general idea of the topic, based on presumably reliable and easily accessible sources. There are also cultural elements today which collaborate the figures: ethnic clubs, ethnic firemen in Valparaíso and Santiago, ethnic schools, tombstones in Valparaíso and Punta Arenas cemeteries written in various European languages, and a variety of European last names. The impact of Far Eastern immigration has been far less, but there are still notable traces, especially seen in Chinese “malls” and restaurants.
As I have said repeatedly, those who plan to come to Chile as a freer, saner alternative to Northern Hemispheric empires and vassal states would do well to learn something about Chile’s culture and history. That history has been changing in the 21st Century with hundreds of thousands of black immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Colombia, as well as hundreds of thousands more from other parts of South America, especially Peru and Venezuela. In just two years, 2016-2017, 150,901 (net) Venezuelans and 144,589 (net) Haitians immigrated to Chile. Those migrations will change Chile’s national skin color a little more, making it less “white” and more diverse. Chile is changing, mostly for the best, and newcomers should be apprised of where Chile has been and where it is going. I hope that this article has helped facilitate that quest at least a little.
Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country. Non-wealthy immigrants to Chile should also create a portable income by signing up to be a 51Talk online English teacher. Read more details about the job in my previous post on the subject.
For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged 2015 book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights (somewhat outdated) found in the larger book. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com: