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Many Basques arrived in Chile in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century from their homeland in northern Spain (see Basque Provinces) and parts of southwestern France, as conquistadors, soldiers, sailors, merchants, priests and labourers. Due to their traditional hard work and entrepreneurship, many of them rose to the top of the social scale and intermarried into the Chilean elites of Castilian descent, giving birth to the new Basque-Chilean aristocracy in Chile. This union is the basis of the Chilean elite of today. But also, they immensely contributed to the ethnic make up of the bulk of the Chilean population. The Basque settlers also intermarried into the native American population of central Chile in the middle of the colonial period to form the large mestizo population that exists in Chile today; mestizos create modern middle and lower classes; other Basque settlers also intermarried with mestizos of Castilian descent. Many years after the first waves of settlers, thousands of Basque refugees fleeing Spanish Civil War in 1939 also settled and have many descendants in the country and have even intermarried with Spanish ethnic groups other than Castilians, and other European ethnic groups. An estimated 1.6 million (10%) to 4.7 million (30%) Chileans have a surname (one or both) of Basque origin. This figure is to the least as the number of Basque descendence is great and plentiful. If one were to compare the large wave of Basques that fled to the population in the Basque Country you can see that in a way ethnically speaking Chile has more Basque blood than the country of origin. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Basque Chileans
  • Vasco-chilenos
  • Txileko euskaldunek
Total population
1,600,000 - 4,700,000
10% to 30% of Chile's population
Regions with significant populations
Santiago, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Punta Arenas, Concepción.
Chilean Spanish, Euskera (Basque), French
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Basque people, Basque diaspora, Spanish people, French people, Basque Argentine, Basque Mexican, Basque Uruguayan

Miguel de Unamuno once said: "There are at least two things that clearly can be attributed to the Basques: the Society of Jesus and the Republic of Chile."[9]



The Basque presence in Chile began in the Conquista period, for in the armies of the first colonizers came an important number of soldiers from the Basque Provinces and from Navarra. In the 16th century, of the 157 Peninsular families that settled in Chile, 39 had Basque surnames. This number progressively grew, as reflected in the number of governors of Basque origin.

Forms a regional immigration corridor between Spain and Chile, one that is large, visible, and continues over time. Basque immigration can be divided into historical periods: discovery, foundation, and colonial period; the wave of immigration of the 18th century; and the recent immigrants (19th and 20th centuries).

During the 18th century, the country experimented a mass immigration coming from the Basque provinces and Navarre, by the end of the 18th century represents 27% of the Chilean population.[10] This raised the Basques to being the most important regional group in the population, displacing the natives and descendants of those born in New Castile, Old Castile, and Andalucía. These immigrant families initially dedicated themselves to their preferred form of business, and in successive years produced many alliances with families of Castilian origin possessing lands and titles, giving birth to a new social group known in Chilean history as the "Castilian-Basque Aristocracy"; others integrated with mestizo middle class.

In the second half of the 19th century came a new wave of Basque immigration, this time as much from the Spanish regions as the French. This migratory flood are extended until the end of the Spanish Civil War.

Notable Basque-ChileansEdit

A list of well known Chileans of Basque descendence is too great to name but the following shows a short list of some.

Notable Basque-Chilean familiesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Diariovasco.
  2. ^ entrevista al Presidente de la Cámara vasca. Archived May 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ vascos Ainara Madariaga: Autora del estudio "Imaginarios vascos desde Chile La construcción de imaginarios vascos en Chile durante el siglo XX".
  4. ^ Basques au Chili.
  5. ^ Contacto Interlingüístico e intercultural en el mundo hispano.instituto valenciano de lenguas y culturas. Universitat de València Cita: " Un 20% de la población chilena tiene su origen en el País Vasco".
  6. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Spanish) La población chilena con ascendencia vasca bordea entre el 15% y el 20% del total, por lo que es uno de los países con mayor presencia de emigrantes venidos de Euskadi. Archived 2010-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [1] DE LOS VASCOS, OÑATI Y LOS ELORZA Waldo Ayarza Elorza.
  8. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Spanish) Presencia vasca en Chile.
  9. ^ "«La Compañía de Jesús y la República de Chile son las dos grandes hazañas del pueblo vascongado», solía decir don Miguel de Unamuno". Miguel de Unamuno used to say "The Company of Jesus and the Republic of Chile are the two great achievements of the Basque people." [2]
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Pedro Aguirre Cerda.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Isabel Allende
  13. ^ "Salvador Allende". Archived from the original on 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  14. ^ Maricarmen Arrigorriaga.
  15. ^ José Manuel Balmaceda.
  16. ^ [4]
  17. ^ Alberto Blest Gana.
  18. ^ Felipe Camiroaga.
  19. ^ Javiera Carrera
  20. ^ José Miguel Carrera
  21. ^ Federico Errázuriz Zañartu.
  22. ^ Domingo Eyzaguirre. Archived 2008-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Alejandro Gorostiaga.
  24. ^ Lucía Hiriart.
  25. ^ Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga.
  26. ^ Marta Larraechea.
  27. ^ Alberto Larraguibel.
  28. ^ Fernando Larraín. Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Hernán Larraín. Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ María Eugenia "Kenita" Larraín. Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Roberto Matta Echaurren". Archived from the original on 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  32. ^ Possible Paradises, Basque Emigration to Latin America By José Manuel Azcona Pastor.
  33. ^ Bernardo O'Higgins.
  34. ^ Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-20. Retrieved 2010-02-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Sebastián Piñera Echenique
  36. ^ "Manuel Rodríguez Erdoiza". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  37. ^ Fernando Solabarrieta.
  38. ^ Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna.
  39. ^ Genealogía de familias Chilenas; Irarrázaval, Yrarrázabal, Irarrázabal
  40. ^ Adolfo Zaldívar.
  41. ^ Andrés Zaldívar.
  42. ^ Aníbal Zañartu.
  43. ^ Allende family.
  44. ^ Balmaceda family.
  45. ^ Carrera family
  46. ^ "Larraín family". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2009-07-30.

External linksEdit