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Its length explains the great variety of climates and regions one can find from north to south.While the northern region is extremely dry (including the great Atacama Desert and numerous places where no rain has ever been recorded), the central region is a fertile area with a mild climate.

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In the northern provinces near Bolivia, Aymar√° Indians have been able to preserve many aspects of their Andean culture.

In the southern region the Mapuche Indians are a large cultural group who strongly contributed to the formation of Chilean culture.

The indigenous population represents some 7 percent of the population.

There are about 500,000 Mapuche Indians in Chile, constituting the country's largest Native American population.

Since the late nineteenth century, Chilean culture has also been nurtured by the arrival of a large group of immigrants, mainly Germans, British, French, Italians, Croatians, Palestinians, and Jews.

Today they fill leading positions in academic and cultural circles as well as within the country's political leadership.

Some 25 percent of Chileans are of European ancestry (mainly from Spanish, German, Italian, British, Croatian, and French origins, or combinations there of).

Chile also has a large Palestinian community (some 300,000 persons, the largest outside Palestine).

The southern region by contrast is chilly and rainy, having icy fjords and glaciers at the southernmost tip.

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