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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.As of 1997, life expectancy at birth was seventy-two years for males and seventy-eight years for females, while the infant mortality rate was ten per thousand live births.The majority of Chileans (65 percent) are of mixed European-indigenous descent ("mestizos," though this term is not in use in Chile).The indigenous population represents some 7 percent of the population.There are about 500,000 Mapuche Indians in Chile, constituting the country's largest Native American population.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.
Today they fill leading positions in academic and cultural circles as well as within the country's political leadership.Chile is administratively divided in twelve regions (subdivided in thirty-one provinces) and a metropolitan region that includes the capital city. Chile has a population of 15,017,800 inhabitants (from a June 1999 estimate) with an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent.The national population density is 46.5 persons per square mile.Some 25 percent of Chileans are of European ancestry (mainly from Spanish, German, Italian, British, Croatian, and French origins, or combinations there of).Chile also has a large Palestinian community (some 300,000 persons, the largest outside Palestine).