Croatian diaspora in Chile
The first Croatians, who can be considered immigrants, arrived in the land of “Tierra del Fuego” in the early seventies of the 19th century, attracted by "the gold fever", after the discovery of gold on the island of Lenox.
The next bigger wave of immigration from Croatia in Chile occurred in the early twentieth century when the phylloxera ( a vineyard pest) hit the island of Brač, resulting in the exodus of a good part of the rural Croatia’s populace to Chile and thus enlarging Croatian immigrant settlements in Chile-- from Arice to Punta Arenas.
After World War I, as a result of different circumstances, there was as small influx of Croat immigrants, while after World War II, Croatian immigration practically came to a halt. It should be noted, though, that during that period a large number of Croatian immigrants moved to the Chilean capital Santiago. The largest number of Chilean Croats and their descendants still live in Santiago. However, the presence of Croatians and their share in the overall population in Chile, particularly in Punta Arenas (about 60,000 Croatian descendants) and in Antofagasta, is also quite considerable. There is a somewhat smaller Croatian community in Iquique, in Serena, in Concepcion and in Vini de Mar, although Croats can be found virtually all over Chile.
Status of Croats in Chile
There is no time limit in residence for obtaining Chilean citizenship. Upon the arrival in Chile one can apply for Chilean citizenship. Chile allows dual citizenship. Most Croatian expatriates in Chile have higher education. Croats are generally considered a respectable immigrant group with its representatives in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Chilean society, also in culture, art, and in the educational system, as well as in the church hierarchy and different entrepreneurial sectors.
Croatian Associations and Catholic Missions
In Chile, there is a number of Croatian clubs, the most prominent being:
- Santiago: Estado Croata
- Punta Arenas: Club Croata
- Antofagasta: Sociedad de Croata Socorros Mutuos,
- Iquique: Club Croata
Croatian Language Programs:
The Croatian language classes for about 120 students, i.e., the children of the third generation of Croat immigrants, are held in Punta Arenas at “Escuela Republica de Croacia,” “Escuola Miguel de Cervantes, Colegio Cruz del Sur” – all within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport of the Republic of Croatia.
Publishing and Media
There are no newspapers in Chile publishing the material exclusively in the Croatian language. However, the community of Croatian immigrants and their descendants in the towns of Punta Arenas, Antofagasta, and Iquique periodically release brochures in Spanish which describe the work of their organizations and also dealing with general topics regarding Croatia. In Punta Arenas a magazine “Male novine” is printed with occasional articles in the Croatian language. In Punta Arenas there are also two radio programs broadcasting Croatian music and covering diverse themes about Croatia.