of Nineteenth Century Chile
In Michelle Prain Brice’s book British Legacy in Valparaiso (2010), Alan Fox quotes the poet Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, who describes Valparaiso as “a recently disembarked Europe strewn in disorder on the beach/Whose sap has saturated both visible and invisible forms of being.” As Sarmiento’s metaphor implies, Chilean customs and forms of life were deeply affected by British and American influence, particularly in the port of Valparaiso where these immigrants first landed—bringing with them knowledge, ideas, and customs from abroad.
As they adjusted to their new landscape and culture, British and American immigrants sought to recreate cultural traditions that reminded them of home, such as the football matches the British sailors played on the hills of Valparaiso or the tradition of five o’clock teatime, called “las onces” or elevenses. Both of these—and many others—still shape Chilean culture today.
As the colony’s population grew, the British wielded increasing influence, founding educational institutions, newspapers, sports clubs, and social and cultural organizations while playing an outsized role in contributing to the new nation’s art, architecture, naval culture and more.
In the sections below, we invite you to explore some of the milestones of Anglo-Chilean cultural history, from its maritime and colonial legacy to the traditions that have woven themselves into the fabric of the Anglo-Saxon heritage in Chile.