Chile - Migration



After the Spanish conquest, there were three main waves of immigration: Germans during 1800–50; Spaniards, Italians, Swiss, Yugoslavs, Syrians, Jordanians, and Lebanese around 1900; and Spaniards and European Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. Since World War II, permanent immigration has been minimal.

In the years immediately preceding and after the Allende victory in 1970, about 10,000 political refugees (largely Brazilians, Bolivians, and Argentines) came to Chile. After the military coup of 1973, however, the bulk of them were expelled. The 1970s also witnessed two successive waves of Chilean emigration when, as a reaction to the Allende victory and, later, as a result of the military coup, several hundred thousand Chileans departed the country for political and economic reasons. Many of them later returned. In 1990 a National Office of Refugees was established to facilitate the reincorporation of returning exiles into Chilean society. In its first three years this office assisted more than 13,000 of the 26,000 exiles who returned in this period. In 1996, the UNHCR office closed for Chileans, after 22 years of operation in Chile, as it was determined that the need for asylum for Chileans no longer exists. The net migration rate for Chile in 2000 was -0.7. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

In 1999, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a resettlement agreement for refugees from the former Yugoslavia. The project was being implemented by the Vicariate of Social (Catholic Church). As of 2000, the total refugee population in Chile numbered 400. In that year there were 153,000 migrants living in Chile.

There is a seasonal pattern of trans-Andean immigration to Argentina by Chilean agricultural workers, and for many years the presence of several thousand Chilean settlers in the Argentine part of Patagonia created a minority problem.

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