travelers are less noticeable than in neighboring Peru and Bolivia
because of Chile's European heritage. The European education of
many Chilean intellectuals influenced the country's art, music
and architecture. As a result art galleries, museums and a thriving
theater scene are a large part of Chilean culture. Nobel Prize-winning
poets Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda were products of Chile
and, until the military coup of 1973, its cinema was among the
most experimental in Latin America. The country's oppressed used
folk music as an important vent, and was regularly performed overseas
by exiles during Pinochet's reign.
Religion is big in Chile and
over 90% of the inhabitants are Roman Catholic, but evangelical
Protestantism is becoming popular. Impressive and omnipresent
best represents the country's Catholic architecture, from high-flying
colonial churches to roadside shrines, some of which are amazing
manifestations of folk art. Chile's official language is spanish,
though many other native languages are still spoken. In the south
there are perhaps half a million speakers of Mapuche and in the
north, there are more than 20,000 speakers of Aymara.
Chile's cuisine reflects the
country's topographical variety, and features seafood, beef, fresh
fruit and vegetables. Chile's biggest standard meal is lomo a
lo pobre - a giant slab of beef topped with two fried eggs and
buried in chips. Curanto, one of the nation's finest dishes, hearty
stew of fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, lamb, beef and potato.
Chilean wines are perhaps South America's best. A pisco sour is
a popular drink which easily gets you piscoed - it's a grape brandy
served with lemon juice, egg white and powdered sugar.
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