To which language should you translate to localize in Chile?
Chile, as writer Benjamín Subecaseaux describes it, is “A Geographic Extravaganza”. In the Northern region, we have the Atacama Desert, the most dry nonpolar desert in the world; then, we have the Central region, with a more temperate climate that makes it ideal for agriculture and where Santiago, the capital, is; finally, we have the Southern region, where the climate is colder and you can find exuberant forests, fjords and the amazing ice fields. This “extravaganza” has a strong influence in our culture and language. As in a number of other countries, the intonation, colloquialisms and, sometimes, behavior, reveal where a certain person is from. Chile is also a country of poets. We have two world famous Nobel laureates in Literature (Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda).
The main spoken language in Chile is Spanish, but there are a number of regional dialects still alive today, such as Mapudungun, Aimara, Quechua and Rapa Nui (the latter only spoken in Easter Island).
Some of our Latin-American neighbors say Chilean Spanish is difficult to understand, as we use a lot of jargon, colloquialisms, we tend to omit de letter “s” at the end of the words and speak very quickly.
Maybe because we are literally located “at the end of the World” and cocooned between the Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Chilean people do not fit the typical “Latino image” the entertainment industry has established. We are not loud, colorful nor have that extremely “outgoing” demeanor a foreigner might expect from us. Nevertheless, here you can find the rich history, culture and traditions that make the country unique in Latin America, and that reflects in our language as well.
En palabras del escritor Benjamín Subecaseaux, Chile es “Una loca geografía”. En el norte, se encuentra el Desierto de Atacama, el desierto no polar más seco del mundo; luego, en la zona central, disfrutamos de un clima más templado que favorece la agricultura y allí se encuentra Santiago, la capital del país; finalmente, en el sur, el clima es más frío y abundan los bosques exuberantes, los fiordos y los asombrosos Campos de Hielo. Esta “locura geográfica” influye en gran medida en nuestra cultura y nuestro idioma. Como sucede en varios países, la entonación, las expresiones coloquiales y, a veces, el comportamiento, revelan el lugar de origen de las personas.
Chile también es un país de poetas, pues contamos con dos Premios Nobel en Literatura de fama mundial, Gabriela Mistral y Pablo Neruda.
El idioma que se habla principalmente en Chile es el español; sin embargo, existen varios dialectos regionales que se siguen hablando, como el Mapudungún, el Aimara, el Quechua y el Rapa Nui (este último se habla solamente en Isla de Pascua).
Algunos de nuestros vecinos latinoamericanos afirman que el español chileno es difícil de comprender, pues usamos mucha jerga, expresiones coloquiales y tenemos la tendencia a omitir la letra “s” al final de las palabras, además de que hablamos muy rápido.
Quizás porque este país se encuentra situado literalmente “al fin del mundo” y encerrado entre la Cordillera de Los Andes y el Océano Pacífico, los chilenos no reflejan la típica imagen latina que ha establecido la industria del entretenimiento. No somos ruidosos, pintorescos ni nos mostramos extremadamente extrovertidos como un extranjero esperaría de un latino. No obstante, en este país es posible encontrar una gran riqueza histórica, cultural e interesantes tradiciones que nos convierten en una nación única en América Latina y, también, influyen en nuestro idioma.Daniela, Translator and Liaison/Conference Interpreter
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Portuguese, Italian, German, English and French.
Mapuche, Guarani, Aymara, Toba and Quechua.
High proficiency (EF) – 47 of 112 countries/regions in the world- 7/20 position in Latin America.
Currency: Chilean peso
Population: 19,116 m
Population density: 25.71/km2
GDP: 252.94 billion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 25,110.16 USD (2020)
Exports: $74.8 billion (2020)
Internet users: 92% penetration, 17.70 million
Unemployment rate: 10.97% (2020)
Literacy: 96.4 % (2020)
Arabic numerals and comma as decimal separator
Date format: dd – mm – yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 0056
Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal
Facts and data
$56.4 billion (2020). Refined Petroleum ($2.91B), Broadcasting Equipment ($2.12B), Crude Petroleum ($1.9B), Cars ($1.66B), and Delivery Trucks ($1.34B), importing mostly from China ($15.7B), United States ($10.7B), Brazil ($3.95B), Argentina ($2.91B), and Germany ($2.24B).
Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of age)
• 74% have an account with a financial institution
• 30% have a credit card
• 19% have a mobile money account
• 29% make online purchases
Ease of doing business
Ease of conducting business is medium (rated 72.6 out of 100). Ranked 32nd out of 34 High income and oLatin American countries. Ranked 59th out of 190 countries worldwide (2019, World Bank).
$74.8 billion (2020). Copper Ore ($21.4B), Refined Copper ($14.5B), Fish Fillets ($2.57B), Sulfate Chemical Wood pulp ($2.1B), and Pitted Fruits ($1.96B), exporting mostly to China ($28.6B), United States ($9.94B), Japan ($6.41B), South Korea ($4.11B), and Brazil ($3.07B).States ($3.47B), Chile ($2.91B), and Vietnam ($2.87B).
Main local online stores
MercadoLibre, eBay and Amazon, Netshoes, Alibaba, Garbarino.com, Musimundo.com, Frávega, Apple and Cencosud
‘Mostly not free’ (rated 74.4 out of 100). Ranked 2nd out of 32 American countries. Ranked 20th out of 186 countries worldwide (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal).
Global Innovation Index
Ranked 1st out of 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries, 53rd out of 132 worldwide.
The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.
Service Imports (2018)
Service Exports (2018)
Most complex products by PCI
Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters
Most Specialized Products by RCA Index
Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between Chile observed and expected exports in each product
Export Opportunities by Relatedness
Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Chile is not specialized in
Distribution of online transactions in Chile in 2018, by device
Sources: World Bank
Distribution of non-cash payment operations in Chile in the 20th century, by method
Reach most of the online purchasing power
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Media language Spanish
National and local free-to-air TV broadcasters operate alongside extensive cable networks, which offer US and international networks. Radio is a key news source; there are hundreds of stations, most of them commercial. Spanish-owned Prisa Group is a major player. Two commercial groups own the bulk of print titles. The constitution guarantees press freedom and the media can criticise the government and cover sensitive topics. Chile scores well in the annual press freedom ranking compiled by Reporters Without Borders. But the group worries is worried about highly-concentrated media ownership.
Media data source: BBC
92% penetration, 17.70 million (2022)
Share of web traffic by device
52.47% mobile phones, 46.40% computers (laptops and desktops), 1.06% tablet devices and 0.06% other devices
Average speed of mobile Internet connection
Average speed of fixed Internet connection
Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 136.9%
Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 96.3%
Most popular web search engines
Google (91.56%), Bing (3.1%), Baidu (1.5%), Yahoo (1.47%), Yandex (1.07%)
Most used social media
Facebook (72.73%), Instagram (10.44%), Pinterest (5.95%), Twitter (2.88%), YouTube (6.97%), Tumblr (0.35%), Reddit (0.37%)
Regardless of their level in the workforce, women are at a slight disadvantage because of the “machismo” ethic that continues to exist in Chilean workplaces. Men still dominate decision making but this is gradually changing as more women enter the workforce and occupy managerial positions. Women have the same educational opportunities as men. More women are willing to make the sacrifices that a full time career requires. Often, they will hire immigrants (usually women) from neighbouring countries who come to work in Chile as domestics and as caregivers. Women that rise to positions of influence or importance are highly admired and respected by men and women alike. However, women still bear the burden of most aspects of life at home although this dynamic is changing.
Ethnicity and Religion
Although not openly admitted, Chile is a country of well-defined and rigid economic/social classes with an increasing gap between higher and lower income earners. The elite and upper middle class, largely in control of the country’s finances and resources, are usually well educated. They are the sons and daughters of successful immigrants from European and Middle Eastern countries who settled in Chile during the 19th and 20th century. They live in distinct areas of cities. Their children attend private schools and private universities.
The middle class includes professionals, middle and small size business people, artists, etc. They also hold education as a priority with a more open attitude towards others. This group is largely made up of sons and daughters of immigrant parents from Arabic countries, other Latin American countries, Italy and Spain. Also, the middle class includes Chileans of mixed descent. This is the group that more appropriately represents the typical Chilean person.
The lower class is less educated and composed of farmers and general labourers. Women are usually at home raising the children or work as domestics in the households of members of the upper classes. The ethnic background of this group is mainly a mixture of Spaniards arriving in Chile from the 15th century and indigenous peoples.
A person’s social class and ethnicity can often be determined by the family name. In rural areas, this division is even more noticeable.
The majority of Chileans are Roman Catholics. This continues to permeate society at all levels, even though the last decade has seen a shift in people’s attitudes and beliefs that somewhat dampens the effect of the Catholic Church in everyday life. Notwithstanding this shift, a certain sector of society with a more traditional view of the Catholic Church’s role in society, having considerable power through its educational institutions, continues to resist the push for change among younger Chileans. The Catholic Church has a direct influence or it is consulted on a regular basis by the government and by the opposition members. However, it is not the strong moral bastion that it once was. Culturally, the Church has lost the moral power it once held, even though it remains the dispenser of reassurance and security in times of crisis for many Chileans. Many scandals involving the clergy have been discovered in recent years and this has eroded people’s confidence in the Church.
At a more personal level, many citizens find themselves disagreeing with the Church’s position on issues such as sexual education in the classroom, abortion and divorce. In the last decade, citizens from all walks of life have been advocating for a more open dialogue, within the Church and outside, to address these and other issues. Respect for and adherence to Catholic holidays remains very important.
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Dialects in Chile
Arica and Parinacota
The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Andres Valdes, Unsplash