Historically, Chile shares many similarities with the other Latin American countries, yet it is also recognized for its exceptional democratic stability and institutional strength. This entry highlights the distinctive aspects of Chilean political and social history that shape the country’s religious field.
Chile’s early colonial experience was defined in large part by the region’s relatively weak colonial apparatus located far from the centers of Spanish control. The initial Spanish conquest of Chile was led by Pedro de Valdivia and a small force of approximately two hundred men. Valdivia, who was granted permission by the Crown to lay claim to the lands taken from the indigenous population, faced strong indigenous resistance, particularly from the Mapuche who waged the prolonged Arauco War. The indigenous people maintained control of the southern parts of Chile until well into the latter 1800s.
Given their relatively small numbers, the Chilean conquerors...
KeywordsChile Catholic Protestant Pentecostal Latter-day Saints
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