Chile is a long, narrow country which extends for approximately 2,600 miles along the western coast of South America. Most of its population is of European descent, but there is also a large metizo, or Indian-European population and a small number of South American Indians. The official language of Chile is Spanish.
The majority of Chileans in Canada today arrived in the country as political refugees after the Allende government was overthrown in 1973. Records indicate that only 2,135 Chileans immigrated to Canada in the 10 years prior to the coup. Most of these people were of the Jewish faith and settled in Toronto.
In order to provide assistance for Chilean refugees arriving in Canada, the Canadian government implemented the Special Chilean Movement Program. By November of 1976, this program brought 4,600 Chileans to Canada. One hundred of these people were part of the One Hundred Prisoner list, a program established by the Inter-Church Committee on Chile. These refugees came directly from internment camps where they were being held as political prisoners.
In the seventies, Chileans were one of Alberta's newest ethnic groups. Since so few Chileans had emigrated to Canada before then, population figures for Chileans in the province before 1973 do not exist. According to statistics compiled in 2001, there are approximately 34,000 Chileans living in Canada, over 5,500 of whom live in Alberta.