Culture and etiquette
Chile’s social mores reflect the European ancestry of the majority of its population, and travellers from the West will have little trouble fitting in, especially if they have a good grasp of Spanish. Chileans are not especially ebullient and high-spirited – particularly when compared with their Argentine neighbours – and are often considered rather formal.
However, they are also known for their quick wit and wordplay, and considering its relatively small population, Chile has produced an impressive array of writers, poets, artists and musicians. The overwhelming majority of Chileans identify themselves as Catholic, and the church still has significant – though waning – influence in the country. Unsurprisingly, then, this is a rather conservative country: divorce was only legalised in 2004 and attitudes towards homosexuality, though improving, are generally far from enlightened. Chileans are very family-oriented: children are popular and travelling families can expect special treatment and friendly attention. Although stereotypical Latin American machismo undoubtedly exists, it is not as strong as in some other countries in the region.
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