Demographics of Chile

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Demographics of Chile
Chile age distribution, 2008.png
Population pyramid of Chile, 2008
Population17,094,270 (2010)[1]
Growth rate0.9% (2010)
Birth rate14.7 births/1,000 population (2010)
Death rate5.7 deaths/1,000 population (2010)
Life expectancy77.53 years
 • male74.26 years
 • female80.96 years (2010)
Fertility rate1.89 children born/woman (2010)
Infant mortality rate7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2010)[2]
Age structure
0–14 years23.2% (male 1,966,017/female 1,877,963)
15–64 years67.8% (male 5,625,963/female 5,628,146)
65 and over9.1% (male 627,746/female 875,872) (2010)
Sex ratio
Total0.98 male(s)/female (2010)
At birth1.05 male(s)/female
Under 151.05 male(s)/female
15–64 years1 male(s)/female
65 and over0.72 male(s)/female
Major ethnicEuropean 70%[3]
Minor ethnicMestizo 25% and Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)
OfficialSpanish (de facto)
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Demographics of Chile
Chile age distribution, 2008.png
Population pyramid of Chile, 2008
Population17,094,270 (2010)[1]
Growth rate0.9% (2010)
Birth rate14.7 births/1,000 population (2010)
Death rate5.7 deaths/1,000 population (2010)
Life expectancy77.53 years
 • male74.26 years
 • female80.96 years (2010)
Fertility rate1.89 children born/woman (2010)
Infant mortality rate7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2010)[2]
Age structure
0–14 years23.2% (male 1,966,017/female 1,877,963)
15–64 years67.8% (male 5,625,963/female 5,628,146)
65 and over9.1% (male 627,746/female 875,872) (2010)
Sex ratio
Total0.98 male(s)/female (2010)
At birth1.05 male(s)/female
Under 151.05 male(s)/female
15–64 years1 male(s)/female
65 and over0.72 male(s)/female
Major ethnicEuropean 70%[3]
Minor ethnicMestizo 25% and Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)
OfficialSpanish (de facto)

This article is about the demographic features of Chile, including population density, ethnicity, economic status and other aspects of the population.

Chile's 2002 census reported a population of 15,116,435 people. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, due to a declining birth rate.[4] By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million people.[5] About 85% of the country's population lives in urban areas, with 40% living in Greater Santiago. The largest agglomerations according to the 2002 census are Greater Santiago with 5.6 million people, Greater Concepción with 861,000 and Greater Valparaíso with 824,000.[6]


According to the 2010 revison of the World Population Prospects the total population was 17,114,000 in 2010, compared to only 6,082,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 22.1%, 68.6% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 9.3% was 65 years or older .[7]

Total population
(x 1000)
aged 0–14
aged 15–64
aged 65+
19506 08236.759.04.3
19556 76838.157.44.5
19607 65239.455.84.8
19658 65640.454.55.0
19709 57839.655.25.2
197510 41936.957.75.4
198011 17933.061.45.7
198512 10730.963.35.9
199013 18829.963.96.2
199514 40929.663.76.6
200015 42027.865.07.3
200516 30224.967.08.1
201017 11422.168.69.3

Ethnic structure[edit]

Chile, the current world champion polo team, with President Michelle Bachelet and the trophy o the 2008 World Polo Championship.

Chile is a multiethnic society In 2011, Chile had an estimated population of 17,500,000, of which approximately 9.1 million or 52.7% are of European descent, with mestizos estimated at 44%.[8] Other studies found a white majority measured at 64% to 90% of the Chilean population.[9][10][11][12] Chile's various waves of immigrants consisted Spanish, Italians, Irish, French, Greeks, Germans, English, Scots, Croats, and Palestinian arrivals.

European and, to a lesser extent, Middle Eastern emigration to Chile, chiefly during the second half of the 19th century and throughout the twentieth, was the most important in Latin America after emigrations to the Atlantic Coast of the Southern Cone (that is, to Argentina and southern Brazil).[13][14][15]

The Afro-Chilean population has always been tiny, reaching a high of 2,500 people during the colonial period; their current percentage of the population is less than 0.1%.[16] According to the 2002 Census, 4.6% of the Chilean population considered themselves indigenous.[17]

European immigration[edit]

Italian (Emilian) immigrants to Capitán Pastene in southern Chile.

The largest contingent of people to have arrived in post-independence Chile came from Spain and the Basque country, a region divided between northern Spain and southern France. Estimates of the number Chileans who can trace at least some descent from Basques range from 10% (1,600,000) to as high as 27% (4,500,000).[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25]

Chile's various waves of non-Spanish immigrants include Italians, Irish, French, Greeks, Germans, English, Scots, and Croats.

In 1848 an important and substantial German immigration took place, laying the foundation for the German-Chilean community.[26][27] Sponsored by the Chilean government for the colonization of the southern region, the Germans (including German-speaking Swiss, Silesians, Alsatians and Austrians), strongly influenced the cultural and racial composition of the southern provinces of Chile. It is difficult to count the number of descendants of Germans in Chile, given the great amount of time. Because many areas of southern Chile were sparsely populated, the traces of German immigration that are quite noticeable. But the Consulate of Chile in Germany estimated that between 500,000 to 600,000 Chileans of German descent.[28]

Influential German immigration in southern Chile

Other historically significant immigrant groups included Croats, whose descendants today are estimated at 380,000 persons, or 2.4% of the Chilean population[29][30] Some authors claim that close to 4.6% of the Chilean population must have some Croatian ancestry.[31] Over 700,000 Chileans (4.5% of the Chilean population) may have British (English, Scottish or Welsh) forebears.[32] Chileans of Greek descent are estimated to number between 90,000 and 120,000;[33] most live in or near either Santiago or Antofagasta, and Chile is one of the five countries in the world most populated with descendants of Greeks.[34] The descendants of Swiss immigrants add 90,000,[35] and it is estimated that about 5% of the Chilean population has some French ancestry.[36] Between 600.000 to 800.000 Chileans descend from Italian immigrants. Other groups of Europeans have followed but are found in smaller numbers, as the descendants of Austrians[37] and Dutchmen it is currently estimated at about 50,000.[38][39] Altogether, these immigrants with their descendants, they have transformed the country culturally, economically and politically.

Indigenous communities[edit]

1902 photograph of a Mapuche girl from Concepción, in southern Chile.

The 1907 census reported 101,118 Indians, or 3.1% of the total country population. Only those that practiced their native culture or spoke their native language were considered, irrespective of their "racial purity."[40]

According to the 2002 census, only indigenous people that still practiced a native culture or spoke a native language were surveyed, and 4.6% of the population (692,192 people) fit that description. Of that 4.6%, 87.3% declared themselves Mapuche.[41] Most of the indigenous population show varying degrees of mixed ancestry.[17]

Chile is one of the twenty-two countries to have signed and ratified the only binding international law concerning indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989.[42] It was adopted in 1989 as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169. Chile ratified the convention in 2008. In November 2009, a court decision in Chile, considered to be a landmark ruling in indigenous rights concerns, made use of the ILO convention 169. The Supreme Court decision on Aymara water rights upholds rulings by both the Pozo Almonte tribunal and the Iquique Court of Appeals, and marks the first judicial application of ILO Convention 169 in Chile.[43]

Those belonging to recognised indigenous communities (2002)

Other ethnic groups[edit]

It is estimated that about 5% of the population (800,000) is descendant of Asian immigrants, chiefly from the Middle East (i.e. Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Middle East Armenians, see Arab Chileans).[44][45] (This may include Israelis, both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the nation of Israel.) Chile is also home to a large population of immigrants, mostly Christian, from the Levant.[46] Roughly 500,000 Palestinian descendants are believed to reside in Chile.[47][48][49][50][51][52]

In recent years, Chile has had a growing East Asian population, mainly from China (see Chinese Chilean), but also from Japan (see Japanese Chilean) and South Korea (see Koreans in Chile). The earliest wave of East Asian immigration took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly Chinese and Japanese contract laborers.

Chile administers Easter Island a territory 4,100 km west of the mainland. The Rapa Nui people are native to the island and are Polynesian in origin. About 3,500 live on the island,[53] but around 10,000 came to the mainland in the 20th century.[54]

There is a sizable population of Roma people in Chile. They are widely and easily recognized, and continue to hold on to their traditions and language, and many continue to live semi-nomadic lifestyles traveling from city to city and living in small tented communities.

Recent immigration[edit]

Since the reestablishment of democracy in Chile, the former tendency for emigrants from the country to outnumber immigrants to it has reversed. Chile now is one of the two countries in Latin American with a positive migration rate.[55]

Today, the principal immigrant groups correspond to the countries bordering Chile. Argentines constitute the largest group, followed by Peruvians. One of the main factors contributing to such immigration has been the growth of the Chilean economy during the past few decades. Immigration from other Latin American countries has also occurred.

According to the 2012 report of the International Organization for Migration, more than 50,000 people from the United States have emigrated to Chile. Most of these arrived in Chile initially to work for multinational corporations. Most possess professional degrees, and most are well situated economically.[56]


The Spanish spoken in Chile is distinctively accented and quite unlike that of neighbouring South American countries because final syllables and "s" sounds are dropped, and some consonants have a soft pronunciation. Accent varies only very slightly from north to south; more noticeable are the small differences in accent based on social class or whether one lives in the city or the country. That the Chilean population was largely formed in a small section at the center of the country and then migrated in modest numbers to the north and south helps explain this relative lack of differentiation, which was maintained by the national reach of radio, and now television, which also helps to diffuse and homogenize colloquial expressions.[57]

There are several indigenous languages spoken in Chile: Mapudungun, Quechua, Aymara and Rapa Nui. After the Spanish invasion, Spanish took over as the lingua franca and the indigenous languages have become minority languages, with some now extinct or close to extinction.[58]

German is spoken to a great extent in southern Chile,[59] either in small countryside pockets or as a second language among the communities of larger cities.

Through initiatives such as the English Opens Doors program, the government made English mandatory for students in fifth-grade and above in public schools. Most private schools in Chile start teaching English from kindergarten.[60] Common English words have been absorbed and appropriated into everyday Spanish speech.[61] Since 2010, all students from 3rd grade in secondary school have been tested on listening and reading comprehension for English language. The evaluation is compulsory and the instrument is TOIEC Bridge, developed by Educational Testing Service.


Religious background in Chile
Roman Catholic
Jehovah Witness

In the most recent census (2002), 70 percent of the population over age 14 identified as Roman Catholic and 15.1 percent as evangelical. In the census, the term "evangelical" referred to all non-Catholic Christian churches with the exception of the Orthodox Church (Greek, Persian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Armenian), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Approximately 90 percent of evangelicals are Pentecostal. Wesleyan, Lutheran, Reformed Evangelical, Presbyterian, Anglican, Episcopalian, Baptist and Methodist churches are also present.[62] Non-religious people, atheists and agnostics, account for around 8% of the population.

Vital statistics[edit]

Official statistics[63][edit]

Average population (x 1000)Live birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000)Total fertility rate
198512 047261 97873 534188 44421.76.115.6
198612 248272 99772 209200 78822.35.916.4
198712 454279 76270 559209 20322.55.716.8
198812 667296 58174 435222 14623.45.917.5
198912 883303 79875 453228 34523.65.917.7
199013 179307 52278 434229 11823.36.017.3
199113 422299 45674 862224 59422.35.616.7
199213 665293 78774 090219 69721.55.416.12.36
199313 908290 43876 261214 17720.95.515.42.32
199414 152288 17575 445212 73020.45.315.12.28
199514 395279 92878 517201 41119.45.513.92.20
199614 596278 72979 123199 60619.15.413.72.18
199714 796273 64178 472195 16918.55.313.22.13
199814 997270 63780 257190 38018.05.412.62.10
199915 197263 86781 984181 88317.45.412.02.04
200015 398261 99378 814183 17917.
200115 572259 06981 871177 19816.65.311.31.98
200215 746251 55981 080170 47916.
200315 919246 82783 672163 15515.55.310.21.87
200416 093242 47686 138156 33815.
200516 267242 98086 102156 87814.
200616 433243 56185 639157 92214.
200716 598242 05493 000149 05414.
200816 763248 36690 168158 19814.
200916 929253 58491 965161 61915.
201017 094251 19997 930153 26914.75.79.01,89
201117 2481

1This estimate and those of previous years were made before the 2012 census results were known.

United Nations estimates[edit]

The Population Departement of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. [7]

PeriodLive births
per year
per year
Natural change
per year
CBR*CDR*NC*TFR*IMR*Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy
1950-1955232 00087 000145 00036.113.522.64.9512054.952.956.8
1955-1960280 00096 000184 00038.913.225.65.4911856.253.858.7
1960-1965307 00099 000208 00037.712.225.45.4410958.155.361.0
1965-1970285 00094 000191 00031.310.320.94.448960.857.763.9
1970-1975273 00088 000185 00027.38.818.43.636963.760.667.0
1975-1980248 00079 000169 00022.97.415.62.804567.464.070.8
1980-1985272 00074 000198 00023.36.417.02.672470.967.474.4
1985-1990298 00074 000224 00023.65.917.72.651872.869.676.0
1990-1995301 00076 000225 00021.95.516.42.551474.571.577.4
1995-2000269 00079 000190 00018.05.312.72.211275.972.878.9
2000-2005249 00080 000169 00015.
2005-2010251 00090 000161 00014.
* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

2012 Census[edit]

According to the Chilean census held in 2012, the population of Chile was 16,634,603.[64]

The methodology used for the census was questioned by advisors to the National Statistics Institute (INE), however, which led to an investigation and the resignation of its director, Francisco Labbé, in April 2013. At the same time, the Chilean government ruled out doing the census over again.[64][65]

Largest cities[edit]

This list includes conurbations and cities with over 150,000 inhabitants. Information is from the 2002 census. (Note: The population given is limited to the city area and is not the population in the whole commune.)[66]

Graphs and maps[edit]


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  2. ^
  3. ^ Chile.
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  5. ^ "Chile: Proyecciones y Estimaciones de Población. Total País 1950-2050". Instituto National de Estadísticas. 
  6. ^ "List of Chilean cities". Observatorio Urbano, Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo de Chile. 
  7. ^ a b Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
  8. ^ Fernández, Francisco Lizcano (2007). Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI. UAEM. ISBN 978-970-757-052-8. 
  9. ^ Argentina, como Chile y Uruguay, su población está formada casi exclusivamente por una población blanca e blanca mestiza procedente del sur de Europa, más del 90% E. García Zarza, 1992, 19.
  10. ^ Genetic epidemiology of single gene defects in Chile.
  11. ^ The Chilean population is rather homogeneous with 95.4 % of its population having European ancestors.
  12. ^ Informe Latinobarómetro 2011, Latinobarómetro (p. 58).
  13. ^ Juan Bialet Massé en su informe sobre "El estado de las clases obreras en el interior del país"
  14. ^ SOCIAL IDENTITY Marta Fierro Social Psychologist.
  15. ^ Etnicidad y ciudadanía en América Latina.
  16. ^ "Elementos de Salud Pública, section 5.2.6". University of Chile. 
  17. ^ a b "El gradiente sociogenético chileno y sus implicaciones ético-sociales". 2000-06-15. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  18. ^ Diariovasco.
  19. ^ entrevista al Presidente de la Cámara vasca.
  20. ^ vascos Ainara Madariaga: Autora del estudio "Imaginarios vascos desde Chile La construcción de imaginarios vascos en Chile durante el siglo XX".
  21. ^ Basques au Chili.
  22. ^ Contacto Interlingüístico e intercultural en el mundo hispano.instituto valenciano de lenguas y culturas. Universitat de València Cita: " Un 20% de la población chilena tiene su origen en el País Vasco".
  23. ^ (Spanish) La población chilena con ascendencia vasca bordea entre el 15% y el 20% del total, por lo que es uno de los países con mayor presencia de emigrantes venidos de Euskadi.
  24. ^ El 27% de los chilenos son descendientes de emigrantes vascos. DE LOS VASCOS, OÑATI Y LOS ELORZA Waldo Ayarza Elorza.
  25. ^ (Spanish) Presencia vasca en Chile.
  26. ^ (Spanish) Los colonos
  27. ^ (Spanish) Alemanes en Chile.
  28. ^ Chilean Consulate in Germany
  29. ^ (Spanish) Diaspora Croata.
  30. ^ Splitski osnovnoškolci rođeni u Čileu.
  31. ^ hrvatski.
  32. ^ "Historia de Chile, Británicos y Anglosajones en Chile durante el siglo XIX". Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  33. ^ (Spanish) Embajada de Grecia en Chile.
  34. ^ (Spanish) Griegos de Chile
  35. ^ 90,000 descendants of Swiss in Chile.
  36. ^ (Spanish) 5% de los chilenos tiene origen frances.
  37. ^ Hoofdstuk XVI Historisch tussenspel
  38. ^ Dutch immigration.
  39. ^ Holando-bóers al sur de Chile.
  40. ^ "1907 census". Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  41. ^ "Censo 2002 – Síntesis de Resultados". Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas. 
  42. ^ "ILOLEX: submits English query". 2004-01-09. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  43. ^ "Chile's Supreme Court Upholds Indigenous Water Use Rights". The Santiago Times. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  44. ^ (Spanish) Arabes de Chile.
  45. ^ (Spanish) En Chile viven unas 700.000 personas de origen árabe y de ellas 500.000 son descendientes de emigrantes palestinos que llegaron a comienzos del siglo pasado y que constituyen la comunidad de ese origen más grande fuera del mundo árabe.
  46. ^ Arab.
  47. ^ Chile: Palestinian refugees arrive to warm welcome.
  48. ^ (Spanish) 500,000 descendientes de primera y segunda generación de palestinos en Chile.
  49. ^ (Spanish) Santiago de Chile es un modelo de convivencia palestino-judía.
  50. ^ Exiling Palestinians to Chile.
  51. ^ (Spanish) Chile tiene la comunidad palestina más grande fuera del mundo árabe, unos 500.000 descendientes.
  52. ^ En detrimento de Israel Acercamiento arabe a America Latina
  53. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadistica de Chile(INE).
  54. ^ Polynesian.
  55. ^ United Nations Population Division
  56. ^ Organization for Migration
  57. ^ "Development and Breakdown of Democracy, 1830-1973". Country Studies. Library of Congress. 1994-03-31. 
  58. ^ "Languages of Chile". 
  59. ^ Oliver Zoellner. "Oliver Zoellner | Generating Samples of Ethnic Minorities in Chile". Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  60. ^ "Repeat after me: Hello, my name is". Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  61. ^ "Anglicism in Chilean Spanish". 2004-05-04. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  62. ^ "Chile". International Religious Freedom Report. United States Department of State. 2008-09-19. 
  63. ^
  64. ^ a b
  65. ^
  66. ^ Chile: Ciudades, Pueblos, Aldeas y Caseríos 2005, Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas – June 2005.