Culture Chile

  • Chile
    © Dmitry Pichugin / 123RF
  • Chile
    © Nataliya Hora / age fotostock
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Chile

Chile: life and culture


Novels, narrative, essays
"Eva Luna" (1985), by Isabel Allende.
"Canto General"(1950), by Pablo Neruda.
"Tierra del Fuego" (1945), by Francisco Coloane.
"Antología" (1941), by Gabriela Mistral.
"The obscene bird of the night" (1970), José Donoso.

Available guides


"La Batalla de Chile", by Patricio Guzman (3 dvd). This trilogy retraces the history of the government of Salvador Allende and the events leading up to the coup d'Etat and Pinochet's dictatorship (the 3rd part of this film has not been published on video).
"Julio comienza en Julio" (1977), by Silvio Caiozzi. This film, voted best Chilean movie of the century, shows the priveliges enjoyed by and the pressures placed upon the upper classes in early 19th century Chile.


"Gracias a la vida", by Violeta Parra.
"Arriba en la cordillera", by Patricio Manns.

Chile: discover the country's history


In February 1541, the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded the town of Santiago.
In 1598, the Mapuche Indians organised a general offensive and destroyed the majority of the Spanish colonies south of the River Bio-Bio.
In the 16th century, British and French pirates frequented the Chilean coasts. At this time, the country still belonged to the viceroyalty of Peru.
In 1817, after seven years of war against the Spanish led by Ambrosio O'Higgins, Chile gained its independence.
From 1879 to 1883, the Pacific war. Chile took over the Bolivian coast and the Peruvian provinces of Arica and Tarapaca.
In 1891, the civil war put an end to the dictatorial regime and began a long period of a parliamentary regime.
In 1925, a new revolution allowed victory by a military junta.
From 1938-1948, government by the left-wing coalition.
From 1964 to 1970, presidency of Eduardo Frei. Profound social and economic reforms
In 1973, the new Socialist President Salvador Allende is assassinated by a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet, who presents himself as the "supreme head of the nation".
In 1988, a referendum rejects the candidature of Pinochet as President.
In March 1994, Eduardo Frei becomes President of the country again.
In March 2000, Ricardo Lagos is elected President.
On 16 January 2006, the Socialist Michelle Bachelet becomes the first woman elected to the presidency of the country.
On 10th December 2006, the dictator Augusto Pinochet dies without having been brought to justice.
In January 2008, Peru opens a lawsuit against Chile over the disputed maritime territories.
In May 2008, the Chaiten volcano which had been dormant for 9000 years unexpectedly erupts.
In January 2010, Sebastian Pinera wins presidential elections and becomes the first right-wing president in over 20 years.
In February 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter Scale hits central Chile killing hundreds.
In 2010, 33 miners are trapped underground for over three months.

Chile: celebrations and events

Bank holidays and national celebrations

3-20 January: Santiago a mil. Considered to be Chile's most important culture festival, Santiago a mil plays host to emerging theatre talents from all over the world. The acts include singers, dancers, actors and gymnasts - who perform in different locations all over the city throughout this two week period.
Late January/Early February: Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol celebrates the mix of South American and Spanish cultures and traditions with street processions, dances and extravagant costumes.
Last week of February: Vina del Mar music festival. This started out as a singing competition for pop and folk artists but now attracts international performers and could be seen as South America's equivalent to the Eurovision Song Contest.
March-April: Easter is celebrated throughout the country with street parades, religious ceremonies and plenty of food.
23-24 June: Mapuche New Year. This is very much seen as a time of rebirth and cleansing. Chileans will bathe in rivers to cleanse their souls, and then will eat, drink and dance with their families. New Year is a nice time for tourists to visit Chile as it offers the chance to see traditional celebrations and dances, such as those performed to encourage a good crop sowing season.
12-18 July: Festival de la Tirana. During this week, Chileans celebrate the patron saint of Chile - the Virgin of Carmen. The village of La Tirana receives on average 200 000 visitors who join the celebrations, including masses in Church, public prayers, and songs and dances in honour of the Saint.
29 June: Saint Peter and Saint Paul's Day. Chileans celebrate with a feast to honour the patron saints of fishermen.
15 August: Assumption, like Easter is celebrated with religious ceremonies and parades throughout the country.
11 September: National Liberation Day. In Rancagua, where the Chilean rebels were defeated in 1814 in the long struggle for independence, Liberation Day sees a celebration of all things Chilean. Rodeos receive large audiences, as do ramadas (open-air dance floors), and stalls surrounding the events serve plenty of Chilean wine and food.
18 September: Independence Day is celebrated nationwide and again, the main aim is to remember all things Chilean. As such, families cook traditional dishes, parades demonstrate Chilean crafts, trades and lifestyles - such as huasos, the traditional Chilean cowboys - and locals dance to Chilean music.
12 October: Columbus Day. As the name suggests, this festival commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in South America. Celebrations are most impressive in Santiago, where local people don traditional attire and take to the streets singing and dancing.
1st November: All Saints' Day.
8 December: Virgen de lo Vasquez Pilgrimage. This covers a distance of 50km and pays homage to the Virgin Mary.
25 December: Christmas. As in most Christian countries, Christmas is an important holiday in Chile. The focus is on colourful decorations and gifts, spending time with family, and remembering the Nativity story.

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