People of the Land
The Araucania Region holds incredible natural beauty: unforgettable expanses of national parks, inspiring volcanoes and mountains, as well as tranquil lakes and rivers all within reach of the Pacific Ocean.
Araucania is also home to 50% of Chile's Mapuche population, the country's largest indigenous group with nearly 500,000 members. Despite the richness of its heritage and land, the 2002 Census found the country's highest rates of poverty and illiteracy in Araucania. This census found that 42.7% of the region's population lives in poverty and that of this group the majority is concentrated in the rural areas where 87% of the region's Mapuche live, thus highlighting the racial aspect of Chile's poverty.
The issue of unemployment among Mapuche heads of household is in fact quite pressing. The majority are considered unemployed, due to the scarcity of economic gains that they are able to realize on their small plots. Clearly, the small quantity and poor quality of the land available to these families defines, to a large extent, their ability to make a living by farming it. It is thus necessary for many of these people to leave their homes for long stretches to seek employment in urban centers where their success in the job market is again limited by their lack of formal education, and the work is most often unreliable and poorly paid.