Chileans have a strong sense of family and of home. Chilean families are very close-knit and often include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The elderly are respected and are cared for by their children.

Young people in Chile generally live at home until they marry. Young men of 18 or 19 are required to serve in the military for two years and young women of the same age may volunteer for two years of military service. Chileans usually start dating in the mid-teens and long engagements often precede marriage. Wedding ceremonies are small and simple, and wedding parties for relatives and friends are normally held at home.

As in many cultures, the father in Chile is considered to be the head of the family, but even though traditional gender roles are valued, they are no longer strictly maintained.

Most Chileans live in urban areas. More than 4 million people (almost a third of Chile's population) live in Santiago. The next largest city, Concepción, has a population of fewer than 350,000 people.

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Adult friends of the family are often called tio or tia (uncle or aunt) as a mark of respect and affection.

Members of the urban upper classes live in large and spacious homes or apartments and often employ servants. Because of economic problems, many members of the Chilean middle class struggle to keep up the appearance of social status but their lifestyles are considerably more modest than those of the upper class. The poorest segments of the population often live in makeshift houses, some without running water or electricity. Efforts have been made to deal with the housing shortage in the last 30 years and to improve the living conditions of the poor, but many people still struggle to survive.

Chile's indigenous population generally lives outside the mainstream of Chilean society. The Mapuche Indians, Chile's largest aboriginal group, have retained much of their traditional lifestyle. Mapuche means "people of the land" and many Mapuche feel very strongly about the loss of their land. Some live in traditional dwellings called rucas, which are made out of wood and have a thatched roof. The Mapuche are deeply committed to keeping their culture and language alive. The Mapuche are generally among the poorest segments of the population.