Culture and Language
The official language of the Republic of Chile is Spanish (castellano) that is spoken by the whole population. Also in existence are indigenous communities that still utilize their languages and dialects like the Mapudungún (in the south) the Aymará (in the Andes Region in the north) and the Rapanui (of Easter Island).
It is important to consider that in Chile, the people speak “Chilean”. This latest manipulation of the Spanish language includes many local and foreign idioms and aboriginal words. The people generally speak incredibly fast, without pronouncing the letter “s” at the end of words and in a very distinct tone. With these conditions, it becomes very hard for tourists to understand the real form of Spanish when they speak “Chilean”.
Ethnically, the country is shaped by the strong influence of the mixture between Spanish settlers and indigenous people, but also in recent times the wide presence of immigrants, giving a special touch to the population of the country. Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Italian, French, Swiss, Basque, German, English, North Americans, Yugoslavs and Croats have been the most influential in shaping Chilean society and culture. Most recently, many Peruvian, Colombian, South Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Pakistani and African refugees have arrived influencing other cultural and societal changes.
Study centers and language schools are abundant offering not only language studies, but cultural education and activities as well. Chile Inside offers foreigners the chance to carry out professional internships, volunteer work, working holidays, farm stays, and other opportunities in Chile that allow them to get to know the country and its customs, people and language.
In terms of culture, the distinctive Chilean society is rather introverted with certain distrust in the rest of the world. The typical Chilean likes to share a cup of wine or a Pisco Sour (the national drink) while tasting the flavorful meat from a custom barbeque (asado). It is common for people to say that Chile is culturally linked between Europe and Latin America, as order and responsibility exist, but less than in Europe and more than in Latin America.
Despite the conservative nature of Chilean society, there is relative equality between men and women, maybe with a small touch of machismo, or male superiority. Like in many countries, controversy stands with sensitive issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay or lesbian marriages since the Catholic Church still strongly influences society.
Finally, don’t miss the diverse museums and theaters which can take you closer to Chilean culture and history. Remember that on Sunday, the entrance of many museums is free!