Languages of Peru

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Languages of Peru
Official languages Spanish
Minority languages Quechua, Aymara
Main foreign languages Peru
Sign languages Peruvian Sign Language

Peru is a multilingual nation. Its official language is Spanish. In the zones in which they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara and other aboriginal languages also have co-official status according to Article 48 of the Constitution of Peru. Besides Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, there are numerous minor Amazonian languages, such as Urarina[1], as well as Peruvian Sign Language.


In Peru, the most common language is Spanish, which is spoken by the majority of Peruvians (85.92% of the total population). Spanish is predominant in the media and in government.

Indigenous languages

Indicated on the map with the distribution of individual native language Quechua by districts.[2]
Map of the distribution of the Aymara-speaking population limited to three southern departments with significant Aymara population: Puno, Moquegua, Tacna.[3]
Indicated on the map with the distribution of individual native language Castilian on areas of Peru[4]

The only aboriginal Andean languages in use in the highlands today are those of the Aymara families (the latter including Jaqaru/Kawki). The Amazon region, however, is home to a wide range of family languages.[clarification needed]

There are currently fourteen defined language families in Peruvian territory, in addition to many more isolated and unclassified languages, such as Urarina.[2]

It is known that the number of languages that were used in Peru easily surpasses 300; some observers speak of 700. Yet from the time of European conquest, epidemics and periods of forced work (in addition to the influence of the hegemonic Spanish language), fewer than 150 can be counted today. The following is an incomplete list of languages spoken today, and a number that became extinct in the twentieth century or that are endangered.

Number of speakers

The aboriginal languages of Peru are spoken mainly in the central Andes and in the Amazon forests. A considerable number of languages were once spoken on the northern coast and in the northern Andes, but other than some in the northern highlands (Cajamarca, Inkawasi-Cañaris and Chachapoyas), all others have died out[clarification needed][5] - Mochica is thought to have gone extinct in the 1950s.

In the Peruvian Amazon over forty languages, which are usually grouped into 14 families and diversifying about 120 recognizable local varieties are spoken.[6]

Population by mother language over 5 years
Languages 1993 2007 2017
Total percentage[7] Total percentage[8] Total percentage[9]
Spanish 15.405.014 80.27% 20.903.489 85.92% 23.178.478 82.94%
Quechua 3.177.938 16.56% 3.262.137 13.21% 3.799.780 13.60%
Aymara 440.380 2.29% 434.372 1.76% 450.010 1.61%
(other Aboriginal language) 132.174 0.9% 223.941 0.91% 227.405 0.81%
(foreign language) 35.118 0.18% 21.097 0.09% 49.876 0.18%
(Unanswered / deaf) 117.979 28.905 240.511

Families and language isolates

Languages extinct prior to the twentieth century

Other languages

In addition to the above, in Peru there is a large community of immigrants, some of whom maintain their native languages. These include the Japanese and the Chinese (Cantonese dialect), and in smaller numbers, the Germans (central Andes), Italian, the Arabic speakers, and the Urdu speakers. The last two are products of the recent wave of immigrants from Palestine and Pakistan. Lately, the influence of English has grown considerably due to the number of tourists and American and British residents.

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  5. ^ "Newsela | Many native languages in Peru are in danger of disappearing". Retrieved 2017-06-07. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  7. ^ Regarding the total respondents.
  8. ^ Regarding the total respondents.
  9. ^ Regarding the total respondents.

External links

  • (in Spanish) – Aboriginal languages of Peru
  • (in Spanish) Center of Peruvian Studies
  • (in Japanese) – ペルー トルヒージョ 2003年12月31日(水)
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