Chile Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Chile Country Overview

Where is Chile located? The Spanish Republic of Chile is a country located in southwestern South America. It extends very long in the latitudes, but not in the longitudes. The time zone map of the world divides countries into world time zones along lines of longitude. The respective time zone to which a country belongs describes the time difference of the respective country from the official world time (also called UTC). The time zone in Chile is called ‘Chile Standard Time’ (CLST) and differs from the world clock by 4 hours. This means that the clocks in Chile show a time 4 hours earlier than the coordinated world time. In summer, the time in Chile is put forward one hour, ie the difference to UTC is then only 3 hours.

Chile National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Chile is 18,186,770, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 18,186,770
Population growth rate 0.71%
Birth rate 13.60 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 78.27 years
Men 75.25 years
Women 81.42 years
Age structure
0-14 years 19.98%
15-64 years 68.89%
65 years and above 11.13%
Median age 33.70 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.97
Population density 24.05 residents per km²
Urbanization 87.00%
88.9% white and non-indigenous people, 11% indigenous people (of which 82% Mapuche, 6% Aimará, 2% Diaguita, etc.)
Catholics (Roman Catholic) 89%, Protestants 11%, Jews <1%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.847
HDI ranking 42nd out of 194

People in Chile

The Chileans

The majority of Chileans are whites or mestizos, namely just under 90 percent. The Mapuche Indians count 9 percent. That corresponds to 1.5 million Mapuche. This makes you the largest indigenous people in Chile. The Mapuche live in the Patagonian part of Chile. Today the city of Temuco is considered to be its center, because a particularly large number of Mapuche live here.

The second largest indigenous group are the Aymara in the far north on the border with Peru. About 115,000 of them live in Chile, that is 0.7 percent of the population. Small groups are Diaguita (45,000 people), Quechua (the descendants of the Inca) and Colla (around 13,000 each), Rapa Nui (who live on Easter Island, around 8,000) and Atacameño (who live in the Atacama Desert in the north, around 6,000).

The southernmost Indian peoples are the Kawesqar and the Yagan (Yámana). 1700 Kawesqar and 1200 Yagan still exist in Chile. They used to live as sea nomads. They carried all their possessions on their canoes. They caught fish and seals and the women dived for clams. They were almost wiped out by the white settlers by the beginning of the 20th century. Many died from imported diseases. Some indigenous peoples such as the Chango on the northern coast or the Chono on the Taitao peninsula in the south died out completely.

  • Children: Every woman in Chile has an average of 1.7 children. In Germany, every woman has an average of 1.4 children.
  • Urban and rural: 88 percent of all Chileans live in cities. Incidentally, that is more than here in Germany (75 percent). More than 6 million Chileans live in the capital Santiago. There are also other larger cities such as Valparaíso and Concepción. Most of the big cities are in the center of the country.

Languages in Chile

Spanish is the official language in Chile. It is spoken by almost all Chileans (99.5 percent). Only a small minority still speaks indigenous languages, namely around 1 percent of the population. The indigenous languages ​​include Mapudungun (the Mapuche language), Aymara, Quechua and Rapa Nui.

Spanish in Chile

Chilean Spanish is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. While in Spain, for example, the c is usually pronounced like an English th, i.e. between the teeth, (as in the English word through), in Chile, as in all of Latin America, the c is spoken like a sharp s (as in see). This is called Seseo.

It is also typical that one always says ustedes instead of vosotros (her). In Spanish Spanish that would be the polite form (Siezen), in Chile and all of Latin America you always say it when addressing several people.

The Voseo (use of vos instead of do for you) is not common in Chile. So you use tu. However, the verb is given its own form (example: tu hacís instead of tu haces – you do, tu venís instead of tu vienes – you come). The final s is also only breathed.

There are also deviations in vocabulary. It is said to potatoes papas (and not patatas) or strawberry frutilla (and not fresa) and Auto car (and not coche). This can easily lead to misunderstandings with Spaniards.


Mapudungun is the language of the Mapuche. Not all Mapuche speak it, however, many speak Spanish. By the way, you probably know a word from the Mapudungun, namely the word poncho. It’s a kind of coat that is made from a piece of cloth and has a hole in the middle through which you stick your head. Perhaps you have already seen that, even with us ponchos are trendy right now. The word poncho means “blanket” in Mapudungun. Funnily enough, the poncho is called differently on Mapudungun, namely makunh.

There are other words from the Mapudungun that we also use in German. These include huemul (Andean deer), degu (bush rat) or pudu (southern deer) – all typical animals of Patagonia.

Mapudungun is written with Latin letters. Example: Kim-wigka-sdugu-ken. That means: I speak a foreign language. Incidentally, the word Mapuche means “people of the country” from mapu (country) and ce (people).

Religions in Chile

67 percent of the population of Chile belong to the Catholic Church, 16 percent to a Protestant church. So 83 percent of the population are Christians. 11 percent feel they do not belong to any religion.