Chilean Culture

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 at 12:00 am

chileChilean culture is deeply rooted on the influences of Spain just like most of the other countries found in the South American continent. But a great deal of the influence that shaped Chilean culture came from Europe.

Most of the population of Chile is composed of mestizos, a mix between the marriage of the early Spanish colonizers with Chile’s indigenous people. Currently there are two known surviving indigenous groups remaining in Chile. One is the Aymara, predominantly found in the north and the Mapuche that continue to inhabit the forested areas of Chile’s lake district.

Chile has also become a home to a number of immigrant population that originated from Europe although they are considered a minority. A majority of the population of Chile is concentrated in the central valley. Spanish is the major language spoken as well as with a few remaining Indian dialects that are still being used in some parts of the country.

Cultural influences of Spain as well as other European countries is evident in the arts, literature and music of Chile. The major cities in Chile are filled with a number of art galleries, museums as well as theaters, credited to the influence of Paris educated Chilean intellectuals from centuries past. Chile’s cinema was considered one of the most experimental in the whole of Latin America. Even the Roman Catholic influences are evident in most of the country’s architecture.

Chile is a country composed of 90 percent Roman Catholics and this can be seen in the many grandiose cathedrals and shrines scattered all over the country. A deeply religious population has made Chileans able to celebrate a number of festivals annually commemorating the patron saints.

Spanish roots bring out the beauty out of Chilean music. Folk music has also been used as a form of political expression for the oppressed in Chile. The national dance is the cueca, developed with music that was brought by the Spanish colonists. It is characterized by movements that imitates the actions of a cock stalking a hen. Cueca can also be reminiscent of the courting ritual between a boy and a girl. Some steps of the cueco also is being influenced by the actions of a huaso or Chilean cowboy trying to corner a filly.

Although some practices now follow a more modern approach, there are still a great part of the population that believes in superstitions as well as traditional beliefs and customs from Chile’s indigenous people as well as European and Spanish influences.