Chilean Americans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chilean Americans
Chilean-American · Chilenoamericanos
Total population
172,062 (2018)[1]
0.05% of the U.S. population (2018)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Miami metropolitan area, San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles, New York metropolitan area, Washington Metro Area, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas Valley
Chilean Spanish, American English
Evangelicalism, Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Chileans, Indigenous Chileans,
European Americans

Chilean Americans (Spanish: chileno-americanos, chileno-estadounidenses, norteamericanos de origen chileno or estadounidenses de origen chileno) are Americans who have full or partial origin from Chile.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of Chilean ancestry was 126,810. Chilean Americans are the fourth smallest Latino group from South America, and the fifth smallest overall. Most Chileans migrating to the United States settle in metropolitan areas. Chilean Americans live mainly in the New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Washington D.C. metropolitan areas. There are significant communities found in Queens in New York City; Northern New Jersey; Miami, Florida; and Nassau County, New York. After the 1960s, Chileans began to immigrate more for economic or academic rather than political reasons, and that continues into the modern day.


Paterson, New Jersey, within the New York City Metropolitan Area, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chilean immigrants to the United States since the 2010 Chile earthquake.

Chileans and other South Americans have been present in the state of California since the 1850s gold rush. Not all Chileans made it to the gold fields. Some remained in San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Stockton where they frequently worked as bricklayers, bakers, or seamen. Some with capital established themselves in various businesses, particularly the importation of flour and mining equipment from Chile. In the cities most tended to congregate and live in specific areas in the poorer sections of town. In the gold fields they lived in separate camp sites. In the summer of 1849 Chileans constituted the majority of the population of Sonora. Chileans frequently worked their mines as group efforts. When the placer gold ran out around Sonora the Chileans were amongst the first miners in California to extract gold from quartz.[2] Historical remnants of those settlements influenced the names of locations such as Chileno Valley in Marin County, Chili Gulch in Calaveras and Chili Bar in Placer which was named after Chilean road builders. Names of Chilean towns and places are often found in the names of streets in Northern California: Valparaiso, Santiago, and Calera.[3][4]

After Allende was overthrown and a military regime was established in 1973, a large exodus of Chileans took place. Most fled to European countries, but a small group did emigrate to the United States. The U.S. government took these Chileans as refugees under a program for "political parolees."

Many of San Francisco's streets carry names of former residents of Chile: Atherton, Ellis, Lick, Larkin, and others. Chilean women also left their names: Mina and Clementina. Manuel Briseño, an early journalist in the mines was one of the founders of the San Diego Union. Juan Evangelista Reyes was a Sacramento pioneer as were the Luco brothers. Luis Felipe Ramírez was one of the City Fathers in Marysville. The Leiva family owned at one time, much of the land in Marin County, including Fort Ross. In 1975, Chilean exiles of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship established La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California, which is to this day the largest Chilean cultural center in the United States.

Chilean Americans have achieved many skills as entrepreneurs, judges, musicians, and others.

As of 2022, no Chilean American has yet been elected to the United States Congress.

Motives of immigration[edit]

Lisa Guerrero is an American investigative journalist, keynote speaker, actress, former sportscaster, and host.

Most Chilean immigration to the U.S. has occurred largely since the 1990s.[5] For the most part, Chileans left as either political asylees and refugees first during the presidency of the Marxist Salvador Allende or for economic reasons; the involvement of the United States in Salvador Allende's overthrow in 1973 and supporting the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, led to more political exiles fleeing from Chile to the U.S., as well as other countries.[6]

Also, there have been others that have emigrated to seek higher education and career development opportunities. Since the 1960 Valdivia earthquake and with 2010 Chile earthquake, many Chileans have pursued economic opportunities in the United States, with Paterson, New Jersey, representing an increasingly common destination.

Many of the Pinochet-era immigrants were of middle or upper class origin. A significant proportion of them arrived with advanced educations and well-developed skills. They had contacts with other Chilean exiles and a sense of identity from their shared commitment to a democratic Chile. After a period of adjustment, many of them were able to pursue skilled jobs or professions. Unfortunately, others, who lacked skills or whose professional certifications were not recognized in the United States, were forced to take low-level jobs in which they were unable to use their skills. Some had been politically active students or union leaders in Chile who did not enter the United States with easily transferable skills.[5]

The second major arrival into the United States was mainly for economic or academic opportunities. Yet, in general, acquiring a U.S. Visa requires the applicant to have a stable economic background, so most Chileans emigrating to the United States since 1990 have done so mostly for study purposes or to further their academic backgrounds.[5]


Chileans are mostly diverse, their ancestry can be fully West/South European as well as mixed with Indigenous and other European heritage. They commonly identify themselves as both Latino and white.[7] Some Chilean-owned stores and restaurants advertise as French and Italian.[7] Many often prefer living in white suburban neighborhoods in the U.S., and have a strong sense of family.[7]


Population by state[edit]

Mahani Teave, classical pianist
Isabel Allende, author

The 10 U.S. states with the largest population of Chilean Americans are:

  1. California – 24,006
  2. Florida – 23,549
  3. New York – 15,050
  4. New Jersey – 8,100
  5. Texas – 6,282
  6. Virginia – 4,195
  7. Maryland – 4,146
  8. Utah – 3,364
  9. Massachusetts – 3,045
  10. Illinois – 2,753

Population by urban agglomeration[edit]

America Olivo, actress and singer

The largest populations of Chilean Americans are situated in the following urban areas:

  1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA – 20,688
  2. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA – 17,161
  3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA – 10,471
  4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA – 6,963
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA – 4,000
  6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA – 2,622
  7. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA – 2,570
  8. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA – 2,454
  9. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA – 2,066
  10. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA – 1,884
  11. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA – 1,779
  12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA – 1,776
  13. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSA – 1,730
  14. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA – 1,686
  15. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA – 1,505
  16. Salt Lake City, UT MSA – 1,463
  17. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA – 1,397
  18. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA – 1,376
  19. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA – 1,215
  20. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ MSA – 1,211

Population by city proper[edit]

Alexa Guarachi, tennis player
  1. New York City, New York – 7,026
  2. Los Angeles, California – 4,112
  3. Miami, Florida – 1,427
  4. Houston, Texas – 934
  5. San Diego, California and Chicago, Illinois – 876
  6. San Francisco, California – 754
  7. Miami Beach, Florida – 739
  8. Washington, DC – 697
  9. San Jose, California – 632
  10. Doral, Florida – 622
  11. Kendall, Florida – 613
  12. Hialeah, Florida – 602
  13. The Hammocks, Florida – 564
  14. Pembroke Pines, Florida – 558
  15. Fontainebleau, Florida – 549
  16. Hollywood, Florida – 542
  17. Kendale Lakes, Florida – 469
  18. Las Vegas, Nevada – 467
  19. Boston, Massachusetts – 405
  20. San Antonio, Texas – 374
  21. Union City, New Jersey – 372
  22. Charlotte, North Carolina – 368
  23. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 357
  24. Coral Springs, Florida – 342
  25. Miramar, Florida and Austin, Texas – 340

Population by percentage[edit]

Paloma Mami, singer

U.S. communities with the highest percentages of Chileans as a percent of total population: (Source: Census 2010)

  1. Brookeville, Maryland – 3.73%
  2. Manorhaven, New York – 3.57%
  3. Oyster Bay, New York – 2.67%
  4. Warm Springs, Virginia – 1.63%
  5. Dover, New Jersey – 1.55%
  6. Key Biscayne, Florida – 1.50%
  7. Sleepy Hollow, New York – 1.48%
  8. Forest Home, New York – 1.40%
  9. Doral, Florida – 1.36%
  10. Victory Gardens, New Jersey – 1.32%
  11. Wharton, New Jersey – 1.27%
  12. The Crossings, Florida – 1.18%
  13. The Hammocks, Florida – 1.11%
  14. Inwood, New York – 1.10%
  15. North Lynbrook, New York – 1.01%

Chileans are more than 1% of the entire population in only fifteen communities in the United States. These communities are mostly located in Miami-Dade County, Morris County, NJ, and Nassau County, NY.

Traditions and Customs[edit]

Singer and songwriter Francisca Valenzuela

Most Chileans have customs that blend well into the American lifestyle. The Chilean workday is similar to the American workday, with the regular businessperson working 45 hours a week[8] from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm with a lunch break, as well as possibly staying behind at work for a few hours to work overtime. However, many Chileans outside Santiago are used to going home for lunch, something not as common in the U.S. and with Chilean Americans.

Unlike the "normal" American diet, Chileans are used to having four meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, tea (or onces) at about five o'clock, and a late dinner. Many people actually have onces during the early evening hours and skip dinner. Surprisingly, Chile is one of the only Latin countries where tea is a more popular drink than coffee, differing from American consumption trends as well.

Notable people[edit]

Actor Pedro Pascal
Laser physicist Frank Duarte
Actress and model Leonor Varela
Actress Cote de Pablo
Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral
Actor Cristián de la Fuente
Politician Gloria Naveillán
TV host Don Francisco
Politician Juan Pablo Letelier
Actor Santiago Cabrera

Chileans abroad[edit]

Of the 857,781 Chilean expatriates around the globe, 13.3% (114,084) live in the United States, 50.1% reside in Argentina, 4.9% in Sweden, and around 2% each in Canada and Australia, with the remaining 18% being scattered in smaller numbers across the globe, particularly the countries of the European Union.[11][12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "B03001 HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN - United States - 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  2. ^ "Chileans in California". Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  3. ^ "Consulado General de Chile en San Francisco". Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  4. ^ "American River Rafting – Information, Descriptions, Resources and Conservation W.E.T. River Trips". Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Chilean Americans - History, Significant immigration waves, Settlement patterns, Acculturation and Assimilation". Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Heredia, Juanita (2012). "South American Latino/a Writers in the United States". The Routledge Companion to Latino/A Literature: 436–444.
  7. ^ a b c Gomez, Luís (2018). "Chilean Americans: A Micro Cultural Latinx Group". Latinx Immigrants, International and Cultural Psychology. International and Cultural Psychology: 33–52. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-95738-8_3. ISBN 978-3-319-95737-1 – via Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
  8. ^ Harris Gomez Group, Chilean labour law – Overtime and how it works!
  9. ^ "Biographies of Famous Citizens," Archived 2010-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "R.J. Apablasa Takes Bride," Los Angeles Times, July 13, 1954, page B-1
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 13, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "ía a los Chilenos en el Mundo". June 22, 2008. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  13. ^ "Chilenos en el extranjero son cerca de un millón". Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved May 19, 2008.


Further reading[edit]

  • Burson, Phyllis J. "Chilean Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2014), pp. 479–490. online
  • Pike, F. B. Chile and the United States: 1880–1962 (University of Notre Dame Press, 1963).
  • Gomez, L.A. (2018). "Chilean Americans: A micro cultural Latinx group." In Patricia Arredondo (Ed.), Latinx immigrants: Transcending acculturation and xenophobia (pp. 33–52). Springer.

External links[edit]