Top 5 People Groups
Araucanian Mapuche: 1,529,000
Other Latin American: 183,000
Chilean Aymara: 116,000
In many respects, this South American country is shaped by its geography. At 2,650 miles in length and about 90 miles in width, Chile is wedged between the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. There are great climate extremes, with the hot Atacama Desert in the north bordering Peru and Bolivia, and the Antarctic tundra in the south. The cultural and political center is located in the middle region of the country, with the capital city of Santiago as its focal point.
Before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 1500s, northern and central Chile was under the rule of the Incas. The Mapuche had control of south-central Chile. In 1818 Chile declared its independence from Spain, and in the latter half of the 19th century, it won its current northern territory from Peru and Bolivia. The Mapuche people became completely subjugated in the 1880s. The Chilean government has tried to redress some of the inequities of the past, including officially recognizing the Mapuche in 1993 and permitting the teaching of the Mapudungun language in local elementary schools.
Today Chile is one of Latin America´s most prosperous and politically stable democratic nations. Painful memories remain, however, of a bloody military coup and 16 years of dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990. More than 3,000 Chilean residents were murdered and thousands more suffered abuse and torture. Five presidents have served since the end of the Pinochet era, instituting democratic and social reforms. The constitution bars the president from serving consecutive terms.
Over 87 percent of the population is identified as Christian, of which 62 percent are Catholic. Most notable is the explosive growth of evangelical denominations over the past 40 years. A Pentecostal revival in 1909 within the Methodist Church gave birth to a dynamic, indigenous movement. Today some 18 percent of the population is considered evangelical. The Mapuche, by far the largest and most independent of Chile´s ethnic groups, are nominally Catholic with a blend of animistic practices. The New Testament was translated into the Mapudungun language in 1997.
Recent Prayerline Posts
CHILE. Native missionaries with Chile Evangelical Mission endeavor to reach the Mapuche children, many of whom go without adequate food and clothing. As gospel workers feed and clothe the children and spend time leading them to the Lord through songs and Bible stories ...
CHILE. The Mapuche tribal people endure discrimination and poverty as they try to preserve their traditional way of life. Pray for the workers with Chile Evangelical Mission who successfully share the gospel through open air village evangelism and door-to-door among the Mapuche. ...