Most of Chile’s population lives in the middle parts of the country and an overwhelming majority live in the cities, mainly in the capital Santiago with suburbs. The majority of residents are of European origin or of mixed origin from both indigenous peoples and Europeans. Around every ten residents belong to the indigenous peoples.
Data on population composition vary over time. In the censuses, it becomes clear that the data on ethnicity is largely a matter of self-identification: between 2002 and 2012, the proportion of immigrants “increased” from about 5 percent to around 10 percent. The largest single group of indigenous peoples is the mapuche (“people of the earth”) who are descendants of the Araucans (see Ancient History).
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Chile, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Today, about half of the mapuche live in Santiago or in other cities, especially in the south. Smaller groups live in the Andes. Those who remain in the countryside feed mainly on small farms. Land has been returned to the indigenous population both during Salvador Allende’s presidency (1970–1973) and after the reinstatement of democracy in 1990. Yet, mapuche owns only a small portion of the land the people had when the Spanish invaded their country in the 16th century. Rapidly rising land prices have caused the state’s return of land to decline in recent years. See also Democracy and Rights.
More than 4,000 Polynesians live on Easter Island in the Pacific, close to 400 km west of Chile.
During the 1973–1990 dictatorship, many Chileans fled the country. About 30,000 Chilean refugees came to Sweden alone. Many have now returned and a constitutional reform in the autumn of 2005 made it easier for children of Chileans abroad to obtain Chilean citizenship.
Spanish is the official language of Chile. Mapuche’s language mapudungun is spoken in the south and quechua by urinals in the north. A law from 1993 gives the indigenous people the right to teach in both their own language and Spanish.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
majority of European and mixed European and Native American origin, about a tenth of the native population
Number of residents
18 054 726 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
87.5 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
13.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
6.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
0.8 percent (2017)
1.8 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.5 percent (2017)
80 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
82 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
77 years (2016)
- mapudungun (mapuche), quechua and many other Native American languagesSources
Bachelet wins the presidential election
In the second round of the presidential election, Michelle Bachelet wins by a wide margin. She gets 62 percent against 38 for Evelyn Matthei. Bachelet (who was also President 2006-2010) becomes the first President since Pinochet’s 1973–1990 reign, serving more than one term. She will take office in March 2014.
Left success in the elections
In the first round of the presidential election, leftist candidate Michelle Bachelet receives the most votes, 47 percent against 25 percent for second Evely Matthei, while seven other candidates share the remaining votes. The result means that a second round of elections must be held. In the congressional elections, the left bloc increases to a total of 67 in the Chamber of Deputies and 21 in the Senate, which means own majority in both chambers. Valalliance New majority wins in all regions. However, voter turnout is low, below 50 percent.
Compensation for torture during the dictatorship
The Inter-American Human Rights Court (IACHR), based in Costa Rica, is for the first time facing a Chilean damages for being tortured during the Pinochet dictatorship.
The 40th anniversary of the military coup is celebrated
On the day 40 years after the 1973 military coup, protesters and police rallied in Santiago where 8,000 police officers were ordered out. Cars and buses are set on fire and power lines are cut so that 200,000 households are affected by power cuts. More than 40 police officers are injured and more than 250 people are arrested. One week before the anniversary, the National Judges ‘Union made an apology for judges’ actions during the military regime, when they were said to have surrendered their role of guarding fundamental rights. Before the anniversary, an official ceremony was also held in the presidential palace, where Piñera criticized the military regime but also said that the coup was a result of “repeated violations of the rule of law” by the Allende government.
Census is questioned
The government gets the council to withdraw the census that was carried out in 2012 because almost a tenth of the population – about 1.6 million people – was not included. The independent group that comes with the recommendation proposes that a new census with fewer questions be implemented in 2015.
Högern appoints presidential candidate
The right-wing candidate for the presidential election will be Labor Minister Evelyn Matthei. This happens a couple of weeks after a primary election in the center-right Alliance for Chile (as it is now called again, see December 2009), which was won by Pablo Longuiera by a small margin. When Longueira resigns shortly after the primary election for health reasons, his party, the Conservative UDI, appoints instead Evelyn Matthei. The November election thus stands between two women: Matthei and Bachelet. In addition, they are the daughters of two former friends and Air Force officers, who also belonged to various political camps. Matthew’s father Fernando Matthei joined Pinochet’s junta after 1973, while Bachel’s father died of torture after the coup (see Modern History).
Michelle Bachelet wins primary election
As expected, Michelle Bachelet is named presidential candidate for the left-wing New Majority. She gets 73 percent of the vote in the alliance’s primary election.
The student protests are increasingly violent
Students enter upper secondary schools to be used for primary elections ahead of this fall’s presidential election. After a day’s unrest, the police evacuate the schools. More than 120 people are arrested. It will be one of the most violent incidents during the now two-year student protests. Piñera refuses to give in to the requirements for free college education and says there are more important things to invest in limited resources than free education for wealthy Chileans.
New valalliance is registered
New Majority (Nueva Mayoría) becomes the name of a new Valalliance formed by the Concertación in collaboration with several small left parties.
The Minister of Education has set aside
Education Minister Harald Beyer is dismissed by Congress because he has not investigated gains that were unlawfully taken out by a private university. Harald Beyer has been Minister since December 2011.
Students in giant demonstration
Up to 250,000 people participate in new student protests in several parts of the country. In Santiago, according to the authorities, 80,000 and according to the students themselves participate about 150,000. The demonstration in the capital is said to be one of the largest in two decades.
Pablo Neruda’s remains are excavated
A judge has ordered the poet Pablo Neruda’s remains to be excavated, to investigate information that he was poisoned. The Nobel Laureate Neruda died twelve days after the 1973 military coup (see Culture and Modern History). According to the family and Nero Foundation, he died of cancer, but his driver claims he was poisoned on behalf of Pinochet. At the end of the year, a survey of 15 Chilean and foreign experts reported that no traces of poison were found in the remains.
Bachelet is making a comeback
Michelle Bachelet confirms that she intends to run for president in December. She is expected to be the center-left Alliance Concertación’s candidate again. According to the constitution, the Bachelet may be re-elected, unlike the incumbent President Piñera (see Political system).
Continued student protests
Thousands of students take part in new demonstrations demanding education reform. About 60 people are arrested and a police officer is reported to have been injured in clashes.