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    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    Chile
    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

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ChileThe name "Chili" or "Chilli" was given to the region by the Spanish, who got the name from the Incans. However, where the Incans got this name is questionable. The word may come from the Mapuche language, meaning "where the land ends" or "sea gulls." It may also derive from the Quechua words chiri, which means "cold" or tchili, which means "snow." Other theories claim the name came about more as a misunderstanding of languages. Some people believe the valley of Aconcagua (in Chile) was named after the Casma Valley (in Peru), which contains a town named "Chili." Still others claim the name comes from the mispronunciation of a local chief's name, Tili.

Introduction:

Today many people visit Chile due to its incredible landscape and impressive mountain scenery. However, in the past this scenery meant settlement was difficult and transportation was nearly impossible. For the people that did make their way to the lands, settlement was focused on the mountain valleys as this was nearly the only place food could be easily grown. This began the Chilean culture and this lifestyle continues today to a great degree, but many introductions since make Chile a fairly modern society.

Among the earliest settlers were the Araucanian people. However, the landscape meant communities were small and divided, with little structure uniting the people. None-the-less, the people shared a language, culture, history, and lifestyle. The lifestyle of these early settlers, including the Mapuche was one of settlement as farming on the same lands over time was important and the only way this was possible was through irrigation systems, which kept the people in place.

For much of history there were few outside introductions to the lifestyle or culture of the people, however this changed with the arrival of the Spanish. Spanish influence into Chile was very slow at first since the lands had few natural resources, the lands were difficult to traverse, and the Mapuche had little interest in giving up their lands. These constant battles and the ability to remain divided by mountains meant once the Spanish did arrive, they developed their own culture, while the Mapuche maintained their culture. Unlike many South American countries, few people from these groups intermarried.

In more recent years the Mapuche and Europeans have improved relations to some degree, but the cultures remain alive on both sides. Although the Mapuche consist of only a small percentage of the population, their communities in the south maintain many aspects of historic Mapuche culture. However, Spanish, or European dominated areas are almost wholly European in culture and lifestyle, especially in the cities, like Santiago. While there is a crossover between the cultures and both sides have adopted items from the other, such as foods from the Mapuche and technology from the Europeans, the country remains diverse and unique with many cultures, many people, many languages, and many lifestyles.

The red, white, and blue on Chile's flag represent the blood spilled to achieve independence, the snow covered Andes Mountains, and the sky respectively. The white star on the flag is a guide to progress and honor.

Name: Republic of Chile
Independence: September 18, 1810
Capital: Santiago
Currency: Chilean Peso
Population: 17,216,945 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: European & Mestizo
Language: Spanish
Religion: Catholic

Information for Chile was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks