Demographics

Chile’s 2002 census reported a population of 15,116,435 people. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, because of a declining birth rate. By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million people. About 85% of the country’s population lives in urban areas, with 40% living in Greater Santiago. The largest agglomerations according to the 2002 census are Greater Santiago with 5.6 million people, Greater Concepción with 861,000 and Greater Valparaíso with 824,000.

Chile is a multiethnic society, which means that it is home to people of many different ethnical backgrounds. As a result, the people there usually treat their nationality as a citizenship, but not an ethnicity.

One study conducted by Francisco Lizcano from UNAM suggested that people of European origin made up 52.7% of the population and that Mestizos made up 44% of the population. A study conducted by the University of Chile found that within the Chilean population, 30% are of European descent and Mestizos with majority European ancestry are estimated to be 65% of the population. Other studies have found a white majority that would exceed 60% of the Chilean population.

The European portion of Chile’s population consists mainly of people descended from Spanish settlers (predominantly CastilianAndalusian and Basque), with minorities having GermanItalianIrishFrenchBritishSwiss, and Croatian ancestry, singly or combined. The Mestizo segment, in this respect, would derive its European component from colonial Spanish settlers (mainly Andalusians and Castilians), while its Amerindian component would be from various tribes or groups, mainly Picunches and Mapuches.

The Afro-Chilean population has always been tiny, reaching a high of 2,500 people during the colonial period; their current percentage of the population is less than one percent. According to the 2002 Census, 4.6% of the Chilean population considered themselves indigenous.