Origin and Traditions
Recent archeological research suggests that Chile has been inhabited for over 10,000 years.
Some of our earliest indigenous peoples include:
- The Atacameño and Diaguita farmers and Chango fishermen of the desert north.
- The Rapa Nui of Easter Island.
- The still proud Mapuche (“the people of the land”) farmers and cattlemen of the center and south.
- Chief among the inhabitants of southernmost Chile were the Huilliche farmers and cattlemen, the Pewenche mountain dwellers, the Pikunche farmers, the seafaring Chonos of Chiloé island, the Kawashkar island hunters, the Tewelche of Patagonia, the Yaganes -accomplished navigators of the Strait of Magellan- and the Selk’nam of Tierra del Fuego.
In the 16th century, the arrival of the conquistadors put an end to Inca rule over parts of Chile and turned it into a Spanish colony. In 1810 a group of local notables proclaimed self-rule. In 12 February 1818, after fighting a lengthy war against Spain, Chile became an independent nation.