Hi everyone! My name is
Anastasia Polosina and 5 years ago, I moved to Santiago from Moscow. Before, I
worked as a magazine editor, and now I guide tours in South America, have a
travel blog, and even wrote a book about Chile.
I’ve had enough time to learn
a lot about the habits of people living in Chile and the amazing things in this
country. Exclusively for Bright Side, I want to talk about the most unusual
things that bust the myths about this country and help others to discover new
sides of it.
Chile is the most economically developed country in Latin America.

Some people call Chile “The
Switzerland of South America”. There are many reasons for this: Chile is in 24th
place on the list of the Global Peace Index. This country has the lowest level
of corruption in all of Latin America and the highest level of economic
development. Chile is in 33rd place on the list of the Press Freedom Index.
There are effective funds that support small companies. Chile is very
economically and socially developed — its level can be compared to many
European countries and it is very safe and comfortable for traveling.
There are official social classes in Chile.

There are official social
classes in Chile: A, B, C, D, and E. For every letter, there are special
features like a place of living, education level, type of medical insurance,
and a profession. And social mobility is very low, so few people can actually
move from one class to another.
This classification is often
used both in everyday speech and, for example, when someone is talking about
the target audience for a product or a service. Very conservative employers can
even ask where you live in the city. Not because they mean something bad but
because it is a habit. Of course, these letters are not written in any
documents. As a result, this segregation affects the mentality of Chileans and
separates social groups from each other.
The unusual habits of locals

Just like any other nation,
Chileans have their own habits and mentality. Here are some of the examples:

  • Chileans can’t really park
    cars well: they don’t care about scratches much and park instinctively. Cars
    have a lot of damage here. By the way, it is considered perfectly normal to
    drive after drinking a couple glasses of wine.
  • Chileans love to replace a
    full dinner with a late lunch — like sandwiches with tea or coffee. There is no
    such thing as a normal dinner in Chile. Speaking of dinner, I’ve got to talk
    about the food. Chileans are willing to pay anything to get a piece of grilled
    meat. Barbecue here is like a second religion. But unlike the popular myth,
    they don’t add a lot of red pepper.
  • Men who work in offices love
    carrying backpacks even when they wear suits. Allegedly, such backpacks are
    better for the back. They also wear pants that are way too short. And women
    love wearing high boots no matter how hot it is outside and they even dress
    like hippies.
  • Don’t be surprised if a
    Chilean will interrogate you with questions like, “What school did you go to?”
    or “Where do you live?” the first time you meet them.
  • Chileans often have Croatian,
    German, English, and French last names. They have diverse DNA.
  • In Chile, everything is upside
    down. It’s cold in the South and hot in the North; it’s summer in January and
    winter in July.
Water in the ocean is cold the entire year.

Many people imagine palm
trees, warm oceans, and rainforests when they hear the words “Latin America”.
This is true for the biggest part of the continent, but Chile is an exception.
You can swim in the ocean in Chile only on Easter Island. On the continent part
of the country, the temperature of the air near the ocean is around 60° F,
there are huge waves, and it is almost impossible to swim. However, there are
no sharks here: they don’t like cold water. Resting on the beach means having
sunbaths. When a Chilean gets into a warm sea or ocean, they’re surprised that
it’s even possible. When they want to have a real beach vacation, they travel
to Brazil.
At the same time, Chilean
nature is incredibly diverse: there, you’ll find the driest desert in the
world, mountains, and thousands of volcanos, lakes, evergreen forests,
glaciers, and islands with penguins. The country is very different in its different
places which is why there are a lot of tourists.
You may not feel an earthquake lower than a 7 magnitude.

Chile is located in a
seismically active zone. Earthquakes here are so mundane that many people don’t
even notice them. Over time, I got used to them too. The buildings here are
constructed according to special standards which protect them from cracks and
other damage. Most earthquakes don’t lead to any consequences and I learned
about them only from the news. The thing is, most of them seem like a light
vibration and most Chileans are very calm about them.
The distances between cities are way bigger than we imagine.

For some reason, many people
think that distances in Latin America are not very long. And Chile seems to be
a small country. Chile is the narrowest country in the world but this doesn’t
mean that the country is small. It’s 4,300 km long. It’s also important not to
forget how far it is from other countries. For example, it is cheaper to fly
from Russia to Cuba than from Santiago to Cuba even though the distance is
about the same. The flight from Santiago to New York is 10.5 hours long, and
Santiago to Rio de Janeiro is 5 hours long. The same goes for traveling across
Chile: if you have just 2 weeks and you want to see as much as possible here,
you’ll need to take planes.
Great wine is produced in Chile.

Chile is the 4th biggest
country in terms of wine production. Carménère is probably the most prominent
kind of Chilean wine. There is even a beautiful story about greenflies that ate
all the grapes in Europe and this kind of grape can only be found in Chile. The
wine production here is great and Chile has fantastic natural conditions here.
The narrow land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean gets a lot of rainfall
from the ocean. It comes to the mountains and ends up in the valleys with
Chileans produce premium wine
along with middle-class kind of wine that is still critically acclaimed.
Chilean wine gets around 90/100 points from respectable critics. On top of that,
Chilean red and white wine has both good quality and a great price. If you
don’t like Chilean wine, it is probably because you haven’t tried a good kind.
It’s funny but locals prefer beer or cocktails — they don’t drink wine all that
Chileans don’t need visas for almost any other country.

An owner of a Chilean passport
rarely needs to have a visa: Chileans can visit 174 countries without a visa.
People from Monaco can visit the same number of countries. Chile is the only
Latin American country that has electronic authorization with the US. This
means that all you have to do to go to the US is fill out an online
questionnaire a day before your trip. My husband thinks that a visa is a bank
Chile is a country of contradictions.

  • The country that just 58 years
    ago experienced the most violent earthquake in human history has the tallest
    skyscraper in South America. It is 989 ft tall. By the way, it was fully
    constructed but most of it is not used — there is no infrastructure around the
    building yet.
  • This is a country that has had
    2 female presidents, legal same-sex marriage, some women’s magazines that don’t
    edit photos, and that doesn’t allow women to have abortions. According to
    surveys, about 30% of Chileans are against abortions. Usually, it’s the richest
    and the poorest people.
  • Chilean women don’t change
    their last names when they get married. They just don’t have such a tradition.
  • Early marriages and a huge
    number of children are normal only for very poor and very rich families. Having
    a baby in Chile is pretty expensive. Private kindergartens, schools, colleges,
    and medical insurance are affordable for the middle class. This is why many
    Chileans tie the knot after just 10 years of having lived together. More than
    that, the average life expectancy in Chile is 80 years (only Canadians live
    longer in this part of the world). This is why they believe that a 35-year-old
    person is still very young.

10. The famous Easter Island
is also a part of Chile.

Few people know for sure where
this tiny island is located. The Chilean coast is the closest land to the
island (it’s 3,700 km away). This is why it’s part of Chile. Just take a 5-hour
flight from Santiago and you will get to the famous island. And Easter Island
is the most remote part of Chile not just because of how far away it is.

  • The land on the island can
    only be bought by an indigenous person, others can only rent houses including
    the Chileans from the continent.
  • The income from the tickets to
    the local archaeological museum of the island is given to the Indian community.
  • There is no getting to the
    island without a hotel reservation and a return ticket. Only locals can get
    jobs here. This is Chile but not exactly.
Would you like to travel to
Chile? Which part of this story amazed you the most? Give your opinions in the
comment section below.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.