Latinos & blond

Contrary to most South American countries, native ethnic heritage is not as strong here; more than 90% of Chile's population are fair-skinned mestizos who look more like southern Europeans. In addition to the Spanish who quickly blended with the native population, many other groups of immigrants, e.g., Italians, Germans, the French, Serbo-Croats, have left their marks in Chile in terms of hair color, facial features, and family names.

The descendants of the native population who still identify with their ethnic group number about 1.6 mio. today. The largest group among these by far, the Mapuche (1.4 mio.), are concentrated in the area around Temuco, and in the Central Region they are mostly found on the periphery of the big cities. Many try their luck here in the urban centers after they have been torn from their original surroundings.

Not much has remained of the rich culture and the way of life - in harmony with the earth - of the Mapuche. Over the centuries, they have been decimated by the European conquerors, exploited as cheap labor, cheated out of their land, and forced into social isolation. Unlike in other South American countries, being of native heritage is a disgrace in Chile - the beauty ideal is being blonde, easily confirmed by TV advertising as well as the countless artificial blondes.