Due to the blending of different cultures, Chile has an interesting mix of ethnicities and a relatively heterogeneous society.
The history of Chile is similar to that of its fellow Latin American neighbors. The land was conquered by the Spanish in the 17th century and with this came a social and economic upheaval with many of its natural resources funneled out of the country. More recently, Chile experienced a military coup in 1973 and was under the control of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet for 17 years. Since 1990, Chile has become a shining example of democracy in South America and an economic motor in the region.
Santiago de Chile is the capital of Chile and the economic and cultural center of the country. One thing is for certain: Chilean people are very passionate about soccer, and rodeo is also a very popular pastime. Chilean customs and activities are deeply related to the geography. Here you will find that skiing and surfing are two of the most popular sports since the coast and mountains offer some of the best conditions anywhere for practicing these sports. It should come as no surprise that with this kind of diversity, Chilean people enjoy a cuisine rich in seafood, fruits, vegetables, and excellent wine.
We can see Chilean culture expressed in a variety of media, such as Chile's growing film industry. Chilean art has expressed itself in many ways, most notably through the works of painters Roberto Matt and Carlos Sotomayor. Chilean literature has brought us writers like Noble Prize winners Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, whose work attracts people from around the world looking to experience the land that inspired these writers. Isabelle Allende, the niece of assassinated president Salvador Allende, is also a recognized Chilean writer who today lives in the United States.
Music and dance are also a very important component of Chilean cultural identity expressed through the national dance, the Cueca, and the haunting pre-Columbian music of the Mapuche people. Other important forms of music popular in Chile are the various regional folk music styles, La Nueva Canción Chilena, cumbia, and more recently pop, electronic music, and hip-hop.