The People

The largest racial group is composed of mestizos, persons with a mixture of European (mainly Spanish) and Indian ancestry. The rest of the people are considered to be white (20 per cent) or Indian (5 per cent). Besides Spanish, there are Irish, French, British, and German groups in the population. The Indians live primarily in the southern part of the country.

In 1992 Chile had a population of 13,348,401. The general population trend is a movement toward the cities, where roughly four-fifths of the people live.

Spanish is the official language. Most of the people are Roman Catholics.

Primary schooling is free and compulsory from age 6 to 14, but it is not always available in rural areas. Students may go on to secondary schools, which offer academic and vocational programs. About 93 per cent of the population is literate.

Higher education is available at national and private universities. The University of Chile, under control of the national government, is the oldest and largest; it is located in Santiago.

The excellent climate of the central zone makes outdoor sports popular there. Tennis, skiing, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, and golf are among the most common. Soccer is the favorite spectator sport.

Independence Day is celebrated on September 18. Many of the religious holidays observed by Chileans are celebrated with lively fiestas (festivals).