Praised the world over for its rugged and incredibly diverse natural beauty, Chile is a land of poetry, sophistication and resiliency in the face of tribulation. Following over 15 violent and bloody years under dictator General Pinochet, Chile peacefully transitioned back to democracy in 1990 and has since resolvedly moved forward. It is now the strongest and most stable democracy in Latin America – a sea of calm in turbulent waters – and boasts a resilient and strong economy. Though its culture is flavored by its indigenous people, it is a strikingly European country with a national appreciation for learning and education. Students will find a wide variety of subjects and activities, both academic and extracurricular, to engage their interest.
Chile is perhaps most well known in academic circuits for its long literary tradition and more recent dedication to human rights issues. Two Nobel-prize winning poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, have emerged from Chile as banner-bearers of a rich and deep culture. In addition to its success in literature, Chile also has a thriving musical and theatrical community, making it an exciting place to study for students from almost any liberal arts field. The country’s more recent interest in human rights, a likely result of the massive violations that occurred under Pinochet, is also a factor that may be attractive for those in political science, international relations, international and civil law, peace and conflict studies, the feminist movement, and journalism.
If the over 4,300 kilometers of mainland Chile don’t have something of interest for you, you may find excitement through Chile’s other claim to fame – Easter Island. The island was discovered by Europeans in 1722 and is most famous for the enormous stone statues – over 880 in all – that cover the island. Not much is known about the culture that erected these monoliths, but it is believed that they served as the burial sites for the island’s elite. Today, over 2,000 Polynesians – the descendants of this culture – inhabit the island and still speak the Polynesian language of Rapa Nui. Anthropology, history and linguistics students may find travel to this island especially enlightening.
Of course, Chile is also Latin America’s shining example of stability and has repeatedly proven the resiliency of its economy in the face of recession, industrial shortages and environmental disasters. It is the strongest economy on the continent, and has averaged a growth rate of around 4-5% over the past 5 years. In the 1990s, growth of real GDP averaged 8% but fell due to the beginnings of a recession and a monetary policy meant to control deficit spending. To help stabilize and grow its GDP, Chile has also made great strides in reducing poverty, increasing education and literacy rates for its impoverished population, and improved access to quality housing and services. Students in economics, business, international business, social and civil development, finance and trade will have much to study and observe while in Chile.