Indians in Chile form one of the smaller populations of the Indian diaspora. The first immigrants from India arrived in Magallanes (present-day Punta Arenas) and worked as traders. Their descendants have moved to different parts of the country. A few Indians came to Chile in the 1920s. Some migrants from British India arrived to work in mining, railroads, and agriculture in the early 20th century, usually under British-owned corporations.
The first person of Indian origin, a Sindhi, Bhai Haroomal, reached Chile in 1905 along with 3 other friends. They were in a trip from Las Palmas. Being an adventorous Sindhi, Bhai Haroomal remained in Punta Arenas in spite of the cold climatic conditions which reach minus 20 degrees Celsius. He established a very succesful business with a chain of 17 stores including in Patagonia (now a part of Argentina) and Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). In 1907 he hired Bhai Bhojrajmal Nandwani to assist him in the day to day management of his business enterprises.
In 1906 another reputed Sindhi company J. T. Chanrai established their branch in Punta Arenas which was closed down after a few years. Bhai Haroomal died in 1911. His son refused to stay in Punta Arenas and the business was sold to Bhai Bhojrajmal Hotchand Nandwani who established the company B. Hotchand which was later named Nandwani Hermanos. This business is presently being handled by his son Dwarkadas, who built a temple and cultural centre in Punta Arenas, to propogate Indian culture. Today the Nandwani families are still happily settled in Punta Arenas His other sons Premchand and Atalram are presently in the Free Zone of Iquique.
In the year 1920, Bhai Tarachand Devandas arrived in Punta Arenas. His son Mario, presently in Santiago, was the first Indian to graduate from a University in Chile. Amongst other noted Sindhis who came to Punta Arenas was Bhai Nenumal Bassarmal, famous for his store La Princessa.
Mr. Tulsi Mohinani, an outstanding philanthropist and one of the earlier settlers in Chile, has set up a Student Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid to deserving students of Indian and Chilean origin to achieve their goals in attaining University education and a Degree. Mr. Tulsi Mohinani has worked tirelessly in his aim of providing a sound education to many youngsters here and his work is very much appreciated by the Indian and local community as well as the Indian Embassy in Santiago.
The number of Indian nationals and persons of Indian origin in Chile is about 1500, mostly from the Sindhi community, with a few Punjabis. About 40% of them have obtained Chilean nationality. Half of them live in the northern free port of Iquique and the rest are in Santiago and Punta Arena.