Since the late nineteenth century, Chilean culture has also been nurtured by the arrival of a large group of immigrants, mainly Germans, British, French, Italians, Croatians, Palestinians, and Jews.

Today they fill leading positions in academic and cultural circles as well as within the country's political leadership.

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Nevertheless, many Chileans are often not even aware of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and they firmly embrace the dominant culture of mainstream society. Chilean culture is located within the confines of the Republic of Chile, although today some 800,000 Chileans are living abroad.

Most of them left the country since the mid-1970s as a result of the political and economic hardships of the military regime that ruled from 1973 to 1990.

This is in dramatic contrast with the country's average width, which does not exceed 221 miles (356 kilometers).

In some places Chile is so narrow that the Andes peaks of its eastern border can be seen from the Pacific coastline.

Since the late 1980s, the country's economic prosperity and sociopolitical stability have attracted an increasing number of immigrants from Korea and from other Latin American countries (largely from Peru, Argentina, and Cuba). The official language of Chile is Spanish ( castellano as Chileans call it), which is spoken by practically all the country's inhabitants.

In the northern region some twenty thousand indigenous people also speak Aymará, while most of Chile's Mapuche population speak or at least understand their ancestral language, Mapudungu.

Since the late nineteenth century, both the northern and southern regions have been mainly populated by people coming from the central region, helping to strengthen the country's cultural homogeneity.

Notwithstanding the existence of a strong dominant national culture, some cultural regional traditions can be identified.

Almost six million people live in the metropolitan region of Santiago, while the northern and southern regions are sparsely populated.