Since Elder Archuleta began serving a mission in Chile, I’ve been curious about the Chilean culture. I have already researched Chilean music, dance, foods and Chilean holidays. Now I’m curious about statistical information of Chile and what it’s like to live with the Chileans and their habits and customs. How does one go about finding this unless one travels to Chile?
Statistical information was easy enough to find; it came straight from Chilean websites and census data. For the real nitty gritty information, I searched through travelogues and blogs of foreign exchange students until I hit the jackpot! People actually keep records of their travel experiences. The quotes on various topics that I extracted from the blogs are in boxes. Bloggers’ names have been omitted. Muchas gracias to those who unknowingly contributed.
Population: 17.27 million (2011) World Bank. The population of Chile is expected to reach about 20.2 million by 2050.
The majority of the Chilean population live in the capital city of Santiago.
Chile is one of the largest exporters of salmon. Chile also exports other fish, fruits, wine, chemicals, paper and copper. Over 1/3 of the world’s copper production is produced in Chile.
Chile has one of the longest recorded dry spells in the Atacama Desert where it did not rain for 40 years.
Chile is a founding member of United Nations as well as of the Union of South American Nations.
Catholics make up 63% of the population. Protestants or Evangelical 15%.
Jehovah’s Witnesses comprise 1%. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 0.9%. Jews make up 0.4%. Atheists are 8.3%. Muslims 0.1% (From Census data 2011)
The Chilean Peso is the national currency of Chile and has been in circulation since 1975. One Chilean Peso is divided into 100 centavos.
One US dollar was worth 517 pesos in December 2011. (Imagine having to get used to using different money.)
The national sport of Chile is the Chilean Rodeo and is mainly practiced in rural areas. The most popular sport in Chile is what they call futbol but we call soccer. The country stops when there is a soccer match and when they win, they go to Plaza Italia to celebrate. Chile has participated in the Olympics since its inauguration and has won 13 medals with tennis bringing in the most.
The literacy rate of Chile is 96.5%. The government provides free and compulsory education to citizens up to the age of eighteen. Chile has a large, well-educated middle class. Education is emphasized as a means to a better life, and the majority of young people earn a high school diploma.
The official language is Spanish; the one used is Chileno which is a mix of slang taken from old sayings and some American-Chilenisms like “Cachai“, which means do you understand or do you get it, coming from the American word “catch”.
“The Spanish is the worst!! I don´t want to speak like a Chilean but after being here for over a year everything I say ends in “kchay” and I can´t say “sí” or “no” – it´s “sip” o “nopo”.”
Chileans are a friendly bunch of people! The common greeting among friends and relatives is the abrazo, which is a hug and a handshake, sometimes with a kiss on the right cheek for women. It is repeated when saying goodbye. When conversing, Chileans tend to stand much closer to one another than in North Americas do. The common greetings are “¿Qui’ubo?” (What’s up?), “¿Como esta?“ (How are you?), “Gusto de verte“ (Nice to see you).
credit: jorge stepankowsky
In Chile, the custom is to give a child the last names of both the father and the mother, although the father’s name is the official one. The paternal surname comes first, followed by the maternal surname. (Example: David James Archuleta Mayorga) Children are addressed either by using both names or by using only the father’s name. Wives keep their maiden names in addition to their husbands’ and they are also known by both names, although they sometimes prefer to use only their husbands’ name.
Avocados (“palta”) are plentiful in Chile and are added to any kind of burger, sandwich or hot dog. The very popular “Italiano” hot dog has ketchup or chopped tomatoes, mayonnaise and avocado on it.
On Italiano Hot Dogs
“And then there’s the combination of 3 ingredients, such as tomato, avocado, mayonnaise simply abbreviated as “italiano,” due to the 3 colors of the Italian flag (red, green and white). Once you know that, you can ask for any kind of sandwich and add “italiano” without any further explanation.”
credit Japi O
“How much bread do Chileans eat? Two buns in the morning, one in lunch time, two or more at “Once” (pronounced own- say)…yeah that is a lot of bread. The toppings for bread: the regular stuff: butter, pate, scrambled eggs, jam, avocado…WHAT? yes, avocado, they eat it smashed with salt and oil. Bread with avocado is a 80′s classic and one of my favorites.”
“Chile has many kinds of bread, and the most common are “frica” (like a hamburger bun, but better), “molde” (typical slice), “marraqueta” (a crusty roll made with French bread dough, “hallulla” and “pan amasado” (both made with lard). Once I was eating one of these delights in Dominó (restaurant) when a guy from another Spanish-speaking country came in. When he finally decided from among beef, chicken, pork, tomato, avocado, bell pepper, mayonnaise, etc., the waiter asked:
“Huh?” asked the bewildered foreigner.
“FRI- CA- MOL- DE- MA- RRA- QUE- TA,” repeated the waiter, trying to be clearer.
By that time I was already well initiated in the ways of bread and was able to explain, “There are 3 types of bread, you need to choose one.” How was he supposed to choose when he had never even heard of a marraqueta or frica? But in the end, he loved the sandwich.”
“Onces—or tea is a Chilean gastronomic institution. Inspired by the British tea, people gather in the early evening (mostly on weekends these days) to “ruin their dinner” (yikes, I’m channeling my mother!) for a carb fest of sandwiches (ham, cheese, and avocado are customary) and/or toast and jam, cookies, cake, and even ice cream (surprisingly often in reverse order). Oh, and the cup of tea is placed in front of you with the plate of food behind it, so that all the crumbs fall into the cup. Don’t try and change it around. It’s no use.”
“Most Chileans tend to drink instant coffee at home (Nescafé, sometimes referred to by purists as “no-es-café” – it is not coffee). When they go out, they drink “café café” (coffee-coffee) to explain that this is not regular coffee (which would be Nescafé) but rather REAL coffee. And it will probably come in a very small (demitasse) cup and often includes a small glass of soda water and a couple of little butter cookies on the side. If you go to a coffee shop they’ll ask if you want “express” (espresso), cortado (café con leche), or capucchino…”
“Security rules in Chile can make shopping complicated. In small stores, shoppers must ask for what they want instead of taking it off the shelves themselves. Then they are given a paper with a description of the product. They take the paper to the cash register to pay for the item and go to another part of the store to pick up the item.”
On Things that upset Chileans
“Not wearing shoes at home.”
“Wandering around with wet hair upsets Chileans because they believe it causes you to catch a cold.”
“Saying that you don’t like sandwiches. Chileans love sandwiches, or “sánguches” in the local vernacular. They eat them for breakfast, onces (tea), snacks, and late-night noshing.”
“Chileans seem to have another kind of relationship with animals. It’s a live-and-let-live laissez faire attitude that endows domestic animals with the same apparent right to share public space as birds, squirrels (which, by the way, don’t exist in Chile), and, of course, humans.”
“Chilean dogs are often free to come and go as they please, and as a result, really don’t seem to care much about what anyone else is doing, and vice versa. Dogs are an extremely common sight on busy city streets and parks. Even the Plaza de la Constitución, in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace, is full of dogs—some with collars (i.e. owners), some without—that spend the entire day playing in the park and rarely seem to notice the hordes of tourists or uniformed officers or speech-making dignitaries or marching protesters or snuggling couples who want to share their space. Cats and dogs often wander in and out of casual restaurants. They are rather good-natured and healthy looking pooches, deep-snoozin’ on busy downtown street corners as pedestrians just step over or around them.”
“Leash laws—if they exist, I’ve never been able to tell— are not enforced. Dogs are allowed to “go out and play,” snooze when they’re tired, and come home when they get hungry. The streets are full of dogs just hanging out, having a good time, and generally not bothering anyone…By the way… the stereotypical dog’s name in Chile? Not Rover, or Spot, or Fido (have you ever really known one of those?)… The quintessential Chilean dog’s name is Bobby! (pronounced BO-bee)”
Chileans are passionate and fun loving people. I wonder if Elder Archuleta has picked up any Chilean customs or affectations. If I ever get the opportunity to visit South America, my first stop would be Chile. Of course my Spanish would be rusty but after reading so much about the country there is now a familiarity that exists for me, if only virtually. And I can’t shake the thought of seeing David, strolling down the street in Santiago, eating an Italiano hotdog. :)