Study finds 12 linguistic families in Peruvian Amazon

A study recently published by Peru’s national statistics and information bureau, INEI, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that the languages spoken among the indigenous population in the country’s Amazon region are grouped into 12 linguistic families.

The linguistic families include Arahuaca, Jibaro, Quechua, Pano, Cahuapana, Tupi-Guarani, Pebayagua, Huitoto, Huarakmbut-Harakmbet, Tucano, Zaparo, and Tacana, plus one group that is considered unclassified.

These language families group a total of more than 50 languages spoken in Amazonia that are similar to others in the same family or at least stem from the same proto-language.

“There isn’t another country on the American continent with as many linguistic families as ours,” said INEI chief Anibal Sanchez. “We share some of these families with other countries in the Americas.”

About 38.1 percent of the indigenous peoples are from the Arahuaca linguistic family. The next biggest group is the Jibaro (24.5 percent), followed by Pano (11.2 percent) and Quechua (9.45 percent).

The agencies also reported that the population of indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon totals 332,975 and are part of 52 ethnic groups, according to state news agency Andina.

The communities live in 124 districts in 11 Peruvian departments: Loreto, Ucayali, Amazonas, San Martin, Cusco, Ayacucho, Junin, Pasco, Huanuco, Madre de Dios and Cajamarca.

The report also found that indigenous communities are young. The median age in the communities is 16 years, which includes an average of 16.5 years of age among men and 15.4 years age among women.

About 92 percent of the population, or 304,332 inhabitants, have a birth certificate, according to the report. In addition, over 85 percent of the population 18 years of age or older has a national identification card (DNI).

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