• 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. However, the country’s indigenous population are still struggling with extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, on their territory.
  • Peoples

    4 million of Peru’s 28.2 million inhabitants are indigenous peoples
    55 different indigenous groups speaking 47 indigenous and native languages constitute Peru’s indigenous peoples
  • Land rights

    21 per cent of the national territory is covered by mining concessions overlapping with 47.8 per cent of the territory of peasant communities

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. However, the country’s indigenous population are still struggling with extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, on their territory.


UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted


Peru voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and has signed and ratified ILO Convention 169, an international legal instrument dealing specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.


Indigenous peoples in Peru


According to the 2007 census, Peru has 28.2 million inhabitants with the indigenous population accounting for 14 per cent, or 4 million persons.

The 4 million indigenous peoples are divided between some 55 groups.

83.11 per cent are Quechua, 10.92 per cent Aymara, and 1.67 per cent Asháninka, while other Amazonian indigenous peoples make up the final 4.31 per cent. These 4.31 per cent are comprised by 51 or more different ethnic groups living in the Amazon forest across 1,786 communities.


Indigenous languages


Peru’s Constitution stipulates that the official languages are Spanish and, in areas where they are predominant, also 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 per cent of the national territory is covered by mining concessions, which overlap with 47.8 per cent of the territory of peasant communities. Hydrocarbon concessions cover some 75 per cent of the Peruvian Amazon.

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 socioenvironmental conflicts in Peru.

The large-scale cultivation of this tropical plant causes deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats. As of the middle of 2016, according to Oxfam, 60,000 hectares of tropical forest had been devastated by oil palm plantations in Peru. And there is a long list of agroindustrial projects in the pipeline, including oil palm cultivation, putting more than 150,000 hectares at risk


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.

New documentary: UCHUNYA Where Will We Live?

A new short video looks at the impacts of deforestation and aggressive palm oil expansion on the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya in the Peruvian Amazon. The video, based on community testimonies, tells the story of how Plantaciones de Pucallpa S.A.C., a member of a group of companies controlled by businessman Dennis Melka, acquired and subsequently deforested over 5,000 hectares of the community’s ancestral forests from 2012 onwards.

Special Rapporteurs discuss impact of free trade agreements in Peru

Successive UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples have expressed serious concerns in relation to the growing negative impacts of foreign investment on rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.

These investments often involve extraction of natural resources and large scale infrastructure projects in or near the territories of indigenous peoples and have been associated with violations of the land and resource, participation, consultation, consent, self-determination and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. In a number of cases they threaten the very cultural and physical survival of these peoples.

Continue Reading

The role of Kechua Lamas midwives in Peru

The Kechua Lamas are an indigenous people living in the San Martin region of the Peruvian Amazon. The local midwives play a vital role in the endurance of their cultural heritage by carrying on traditional practices. They are the godmothers and advisors during pregnancy and childbirth, and throughout the parenting process they continue to put into practice knowledge that has been passed on by their ancestors.

In this series produced by the Waman Wasi organization, we will learn how the Kechua Lamas value and conserve their ancestral traditions through their midwives (in Spanish only):

About IWGIA

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

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Download here.

Contact IWGIA

Classensgade 11 E
DK 2100 Copenhagen
Denmark
Phone: (+45) 35 27 05 00
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410