From the beginning of agricultural colonisation until the end of the pre-Hispanic period, the north of Chile was a region of Andean culture influenced by the traditions of the Altiplano, which extended to the northern coastal valleys, while the southern regions were areas of Mapuche cultural activity. Throughout the colonial period following the conquest and the early Republican period, the country’s culture was dominated by the Spanish. Other European influences, notably English, French and German, began in the 19th century and have continued to the present day. German immigrants influenced the rural architecture and Bavarian-style cuisine of southern Chile in cities such as Valdivia, Frutillar, Puerto Varas, Osorno, Temuco, Puerto Octay, Llanquihue, Faja Maisan, Pitrufquén, Victoria, Pucón and Puerto Montt.
Music and dance
Chilean music is at once folkloric, popular and classical. The large geography produces different styles of music in the north, centre and south of the country, including the music of Easter Island and the Mapuche. The national dance is the cueca. Another form of traditional Chilean song, but not dance, is the tonada. It is derived from music imported by the Spanish settlers and differs from the cueca in that it has a melodic interlude and a more prominent melody.
Between 1950 and 1970, a renaissance of folk music appeared, led by groups such as Los de Ramón, Los Cuatro Huasos and Los Huasos Quincheros, among others, with composers such as Raúl de Ramón, Violeta Parra, etc. In the mid-1960s, indigenous musical forms were revived by the Parra family with the Nueva canción Chilena, which was associated with political activists and reformers such as Víctor Jara, Inti-Illimani and Quilapayún. Another important folk singer and researcher in Chilean folklore and ethnography is Margot Loyola. Many Chilean rock bands such as Los Jaivas, Los Prisioneros, La Ley and Los Tres have also achieved international success. Music festivals are held every year in Viña del Mar in February.
Chilean cuisine reflects the country’s topographical diversity and offers a selection of seafood, beef, fruit and vegetables. Traditional recipes include asado, cazuela, empanadas, humitas, pastel de choclo, pastel de papas, curanto and sopaipillas. Crudos illustrates the mixed culinary contributions of Chile’s diverse ethnic influences. Raw llama hash, extensive use of shellfish and rice bread were adopted from the indigenous Quechua-Andean cuisine (although beef brought to Chile by Europeans is now also used in place of llama meat), lemon and onions were brought by Spanish settlers, and the use of mayonnaise and yoghurt was introduced by German immigrants, as was beer.
Chilean folklore, a cultural and demographic characteristic of the country, is the result of the mixture of Spanish and Indian elements that took place during the colonial period. For cultural and historical reasons, they are divided and distinguished into four main areas of the country: the Northern, Central, Southern and Southern regions. Most of the traditions of Chilean culture have a festive purpose, but some, like dances and ceremonies, have religious components.
Chilean mythology is the mythology and beliefs of Chilean folklore. These include Chilote mythology, Rapa Nui mythology and Mapuche mythology.
The film was born in Valparaíso on 26 May 1902 with the premiere of the documentary General Firemen’s Exercise, the first film entirely filmed and processed in the country. In the following decades milestones were set with The Deck of Death (or The Riddle of Lord Street) (1916), as the first film in Chilean history, The Transmission of the Presidency (1920), the first animated film in the country, and North and South (1934), the first sound film in Chile.
The most popular sport in Chile is club football. Chile has participated in nine FIFA World Cups, including the 1962 World Cup, where the national football team finished third. Other achievements of the national football team include two Copa America titles (2015 and 2016) and two runner-up finishes, a silver and two bronze medals at the Pan American Games, a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and two third-place finishes at FIFA’s Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments. The top division of the Chilean football league system is the Chilean Primera División, which is ranked by the IFFHS as the ninth best national football league in the world.
The main football clubs are Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. Colo-Colo is the most successful football club in the country and has won the most national and international championships, including the Copa Libertadores, a coveted South American club tournament. Universidad de Chile was the last international champion (Copa Sudamericana 2011).
Tennis is the most popular sport in Chile. The Chilean national team has won the clay court team World Cup twice (2003 and 2004) and played in the Davis Cup final against Italy in 1976. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, the country won gold and bronze in men’s singles and gold in men’s doubles. Marcelo Ríos became the first Latin American to be ranked number 1 in the ATP rankings in 1998. Anita Lizana won the US Open in 1937, becoming the first Latin American woman to win a Grand Slam tournament. Luis Ayala was a two-time finalist at the French Open, and both Ríos and Fernando González reached the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. González also won a silver medal in singles at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
At the Summer Olympics, Chile won a total of two gold medals (tennis), seven silver medals (athletics, equestrian, boxing, shooting and tennis) and four bronze medals (tennis, boxing and football). In 2012, Chile won its first medal at the Paralympics (gold in athletics).
Rodeo is the country’s national sport and is practiced in the more rural areas of the country. A sport similar to hockey, called chueca, was played by the Mapuche during the Spanish conquest. Skiing and snowboarding are practised in the ski centres of the central Andes and in the southern ski centres, near cities such as Osorno, Puerto Varas, Temuco and Punta Arenas. Surfing is popular in some coastal cities. Polo is played professionally in Chile, with the country winning first place in the 2008 and 2015 World Polo Championships.
Basketball is a popular sport in which Chile won a bronze medal in the first FIBA Men’s World Cup in 1950 and a second bronze medal when Chile hosted the FIBA World Cup in 1959. Chile hosted the first FIBA Women’s World Championship in 1953 and finished the tournament with a silver medal. San Pedro de Atacama is the site of the “Atacama Crossing”, a 250 km walk in six stages that attracts some 150 participants from 35 countries each year. The Dakar Rally, an off-road car race, has been held in Chile and Argentina since 2009.
Chile’s cultural heritage is made up, firstly, of the intangible heritage, which consists of various cultural events, such as visual arts, handicrafts, dances, festivals, cuisine, games, music and traditions, and secondly, the tangible heritage, which consists of those buildings, objects and archaeological, architectural, traditional, ethnographic, folkloric, historical, religious or technological sites scattered throughout Chilean territory, including those properties declared World Heritage by UNESCO, in accordance with the provisions of the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, ratified by Chile in 1980. These cultural sites are Rapa Nui National Park (1995), the Churches of Chiloé (2000), the Historic Quarter of the Port City of Valparaíso (2003), the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (2005) and the Mining Town of Sewell (2006).
In 1999, the Cultural Heritage Day was created to honour and recognise Chile’s cultural heritage. It is an official bank holidays celebrated every year in May.