• Indigenous peoples in Peru

    Indigenous peoples in Peru

    There are 4 million indigenous peoples in Peru, who are comprised by some 55 groups speaking 47 languages. In 2007, Peru voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Indigenous Peoples in Peru

There are 4 million Indigenous Peoples in Peru, who are comprised of 55 groups speaking 47 languages. Peru voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and has ratified ILO Convention 169. However, the country’s indigenous population are still struggling with extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, on their territory.

Indigenous Peoples in Peru

According to the 2007 Census, Peru’s population includes more than 4 million Indigenous Persons, of whom 83.11% are Quechua, 10.92% Aymara, 1.67% Ashaninka, and 4.31% belong to other Amazonian Indigenous Peoples. The Database of Indigenous or Original Peoples notes the existence in the country of 55 Indigenous Peoples who speak 47 indigenous languages.

21% of Peru’s territory consists of mining concessions, which are superimposed upon 47.8% of the territory of peasant communities. Similarly, 75% of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by oil and gas concessions.

Peru’s Constitution stipulates that the official languages are Spanish and, in areas where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara and other aboriginal languages. According to the Ministry of Culture, there are 47 indigenous and native languages in the country. Almost 3.4 million people speak Quechua and 0.5 million Aymara. Both languages are predominant in the Coastal Andes area.

Main challenges for Peru’s Indigenous Peoples

Extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, and climate change, such as drought and forest fires, are the main threats to native communities and the huge variety of ecosystems and a great wealth of natural resources in Peru.

Currently, 21% of Peru’s territory consists of mining concessions, which are superimposed upon 47.8% of the territory of peasant communities. Similarly, 75% of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by oil and gas concessions.This overlapping of rights to communal territories, the enormous pressure being exerted by the extractive industries, the lack of territorial cohesion and absence of effective prior consultation are all exacerbating territorial and socio-environmental conflicts in Peru.

Watch how the road expansion into the Madre de Dios region in Peru and the following invasion of illegal loggers, miners and plantations is affecting Indigenous Peoples living in the area as the deforestation and pollution are destroying their traditional way of living. 


Case: Wampis sovereignty

Despite the fact that indigenous peoples have not been at the heart of public debate recently, some encouraging news came in 2016 the form of the consolidation of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation (GTANW). The project first saw the light of day in November 2015 with a collective demonstration for autonomy from the Peruvian state on the part of the Wampis people. The Wampis nation achieved jurisdictional sovereignty over their territory of 1,300,000 hectares of land located in the Loreto and Amazonas regions, which they are protecting from outside interest in their natural resources.

The case formed a milestone in indigenous sovereignty as the constitution of this autonomous government forces the Peruvian state to recognise their independence within their own territorial boundaries. Now, the Kandozi and Chapra peoples have announced similar plans.

Watch are short movie about The Wampis Nation and the making of their congress here  


Life is also territory: an interview with Amazonian anthropologist Alberto Chirif


Alberto Chirif Tirado (Lima, 1943) is a prominent Peruvian anthropologist who has devoted his life to the Amazon and the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples. His work and diverse interests are attested to in a large number of research projects and books on Indigenous Peoples' rights, territories, memory and history, regional vocabulary, Indigenous cuisine and Amazonian literature. An exceptional witness to the Amazon and the history of Peru, Alberto’s career has encompassed the differing moments that have marked the transformations and course of his country, of Amazonian anthropology and of the Amazonian Indigenous movement.

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Oil blindness in Peru: laws that neither look to the past nor to the future


The Peruvian Congressional Commission on Energy and Mining passed a bill that enables Petroperú to be awarded the oil lots located on the coast and in the Amazon regions of the country. While new lots are being promoted and old ones are being squeezed, 6,000 environmental impacts continue without receiving the necessary attention to remedy the contamination and to avoid impacts on the health of local communities. In the political debate, the opinion of indigenous organizations is not taken into account, and the costs of remediation or the transition to renewable energy sources are not analyzed.

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The rebellion of the Andean peoples of Peru


The socio-political crisis the country is going through is systematic and structural. With this new wave of repression and racism, the way in which Indigenous peoples and peasants who live in the South of the country got organized should be highlighted. Treated by the State as second-class citizens, the Aymara, Chanca, Quechua, Ashaninka, and Awajun peoples are suffering and resisting institutional violence. If elections are not moved forwards and a Constituent Assembly is not formed, the Peruvian people will continue taking to the streets.

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Self-determination, conservation and Tarimat Pujut in the Wampís Nation


Despite progress at the international level, the environmentalism movement and the Peruvian state have not yet fully recognized the role played by Indigenous Peoples in the protection of Amazonian biodiversity. For the communities, man and nature form a whole and, as such, they take advantage of the benefits of the forests, while at the same time imposing limits on their extraction. The Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation seeks to implement a comprehensive system of territorial control based on traditional teachings, constant monitoring, Indigenous justice and "sustainable bio-businesses". 

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The Indigenous World 2023: Peru

The Peruvian State recognizes 47 Indigenous languages spoken by 55 different peoples. According to the 2017 National Population Census, almost six million people (5,972,603) self-identify as belonging to an Indigenous or native people, representing just over a quarter of the total population. Of these, 5,176,809 identify as Quechua and 548,292 as Aymara. The Amazonian population in the census who self-identify as Asháninka, Awajún, Shipibo, or other Amazonian peoples total 197,667. In addition, some 50,000 identify as belonging to other Indigenous or native peoples. Census under-registration in the Amazon region is, nevertheless, a known and ongoing problem.

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People are pouring into Peru’s capital protesting against institutionalized racism


Since Dina Boluarte took office, violence against the community has not stopped. Repression and deaths are greater in the Southern region of Peru, where there is a majority of Quechua and Aymara individuals. Autonomous governments and Indigenous organizations were the first ones to speak out against racism by the State. While the government is trying to delegitimize these protests by accusing the demonstrators of committing terrorism, the collective organization is gaining power and representativeness without an actual leader.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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