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Religion in Chile

Population

According to Countryaah data, Chile has a population density of 25 residents per km2. Most of the population lives in central Chile, mainly in the large valley (Valle Central) within the coastal mountains. 87 percent of the residents live in cities, of which Santiago (4.9 million residents, 2013) is completely dominant. The cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar and Concepción and Talcahuano respectively form metropolitan areas with approximately 900,000 residents each. The population of Chile is not quite as young as in many of the neighboring countries.

Religions of Chile

Of the population of Chile, Indians today make up just over 4 percent. Between 25 and 30 percent are white (mainly of Spanish origin), while the mastics amount to 60-70 percent. This non-Native American majority is highly concentrated in the cities. Before the Spanish conquered the country in the 1530s, Chile's northern half was included in the empire, and some of the indigenous people in the far north still speak its language, Quechua. The number of Indians who identify as quechua and aymara amounts to just over 60,000 people. Of the Atacama and Diaguita conquerors, who lost their languages, about 20,000 remain today. The incarceration's expansion was halted at the height of the modern city of Constitución by the Araucans, which still today constitutes Chile's most viable group of Native Americans. Of the Araucans, mapuche make up the largest group, about 600,000. Farthest to the south were originally hunter and gatherer peoples such as kawashkar (alacaluf) and (in the Land of Fire) yamana (yahgan). None of these latter people speak their original language anymore, but still in 2002, 2,622 individuals identified as kawashkar and 1,685 as yamana.

Language

The official language and mother tongue of the vast majority are Spanish. Araucian languages, especially mapudungun (mapuche), are spoken by just under 1.5% of the population. Aymara is now spoken by just under a thousand people, while the East Polynesian language rapa nui is spoken by a few thousand people on Easter Island.

Religion

As early as the 1560s, a Catholic diocese was established in Santiago, which was then subordinate to Lima. Christianity (Roman Catholicism) became the official state religion when Chile gained independence in 1810. After independence in 1818, immigration of Lutherans and Reformed Christians from Germany began. In 1821, Protestant Bible societies came, and after 1846 Presbyterians from Britain and the United States. Methodists followed in 1877. In their tracks spread Pentecostals, which reached 10% of the population. After 1909 there were two major Pentecostal movements. Under the influence of the Latin American Episcopal Conferences (CELAM), a Catholic renewal was deepened, which had begun in layman movements even before the Second Vatican Council.

The ecumenical movement Christian for socialism, including Pablo Richard and Ronaldo Muñoz, supported Allende's popular reform program, but were later persecuted during Pinochet's dictatorship. Thousands of Christians, including many priests, were tortured, murdered or fled. The Vicariate of Solidarity Organization in Santiago under Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, assisted the persecuted and was a leader in the Church's fight for human rights. Parts of the hierarchy and the church people, on the other hand, were devoted followers of Pinochet. An ecumenical collaboration against the dictatorship took place in the Churches Peace Committee, which united Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox, Pentecostal friends and Jews. The purpose was to provide legal and humanitarian assistance to the persecuted. When the dictatorship banned in 1975, the Christian Brotherhood Association continued its work.

About 80% are Catholics and 15% are Protestants. Evangelical and charismatic movements are growing rapidly. There are about 20,000 Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists as well.

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