The Chileans of today are a mix of Spanish and Amerindian descent. They are patriotic and proud of the beauty and diversity of their country. Chile has a rich tradition in poetry, and her people are honored to have two Nobel Prize-winning poets among their ranks - Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Also avid sports fans, Chilean rodeo, tennis and football (soccer) are the three most popular in the country. While football tends to bring in the number one spot in popularity, they are most successful in tennis, reaching the finals and often winning matches across the world. However, rodeo is considered the national sport.
The official language is Chilean Spanish. Indigenous languages such as Aymara and Mapu-dugun are also spoken. You may hear some English, especially in tourist areas.
The majority of Chileans are Catholic, with other Christian religions following. There are also some Jewish communities in parts of the country.
Chile's culture is largely a blend of indigenous, Spanish and German influences. The huaso or horsemen of central Chile is almost a national symbol, and there are strong Spanish styles in the dress, architecture, music and dances of the huaso traditions. The current Nueva Canción movement was adapted from the folk music of the north, the traditional panpipes and quenas. Many residents of the more rural areas strongly identify with music and dance, while the urban centers tend to be modern and more cosmopolitan.
Chilean cuisine is a fusion of traditional dishes mixed with Spanish-inspired meals. Long before the Spaniards arrived in Chile, the people were cooking with seafood, corn and other vegetables and fresh fruit. When the Spanish came, they brought with them chicken, cows, sheep, pigs, sausages, milk, cheeses, grapes, olives, walnuts, chestnuts, rice, wheat, citrus fruits, sugar, garlic and spices.
Some favorites dishes of the Chile of today include: pastel de choclo, a pie made with corn, vegetables, chicken, and beef; humitas, pureed corn mixed with fried onions, basil, salt and pepper, then cooked in corn husks; cazuela de ave, a thick stew with chicken, potatoes, rice and green peppers; empanadas, little "pies" stuffed with beef, olives and onions; bistec a lo pobre or poor man's steak, steak topped with fried eggs; and tomaticán, tomato and corn stew often served as a side dish to a meat, chicken, or fish entrée.
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day.