The northern part of the country was ruled by the Inca before the Spanish took control in the 16th century. Native Mapuche people lived in the southern and central regions before the country became a Spanish colony. The country gained independence from Spain in 1810. Toward the end of the 1800s, many Europeans began to settle in Chile, including Germans, French, British, and Italians. Many Chinese moved to Chile to help build the railroad.
Chile was once considered to be a very stable and free country. But in 1973 a bloody battle overthrew Salvador Allende's elected Marxist government and the country suffered 16 years under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Democracy was restored in 1989. Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Chile. The variant of Spanish spoken in the country is Chilean Spanish. Several other indigenous and immigrant languages are also spoken in the country.