Being a multilingual nation, Peru has an extremely diverse linguistic landscape. It is dominated by Spanish, but it is also home to dozens of other indigenous languages.

Approximately 84% of the population of Peru speaks Spanish, also known as Castellano or Espanol. This makes it the most widely spoken language in Peru by far. Spanish is also the main language of the Peruvian government, the education system, as well as the media. There are some slight regional variations in the language which correspond with the country’s three geographic regions of coast, mountains, and jungle. These variations include things like differences in pronunciation and common expressions. Peruvian slang is also popular across the country, particularly among the young people.

Quechua, which was the language of the Inca Empire, is the most widely spoken native language and the second most common language in Peru. It is spoken by about 13% of the country’s population, mainly in the central and southern highland regions of Peru. The Incan influence helped it spread and remain strong in the Andean regions of Peru. There are many subdivisions within the Quechua language family, to the extent of being mutually unintelligible in some instances.

Aymara is the next most widely spoken language in Peru. With less than half a million speakers of this language in Peru – or about 1.7% of the population – it is not as widely represented as Spanish or Quechua, but it still remains the third most spoken language across the nation. The speakers of this language live almost entirely in the very south of the country, along the border with Bolivia and around Lake Titicaca, where it is spoken by the Uros people of the floating islands.

Other indigenous languages of Peru include Aguaruna, Ashaninka and Shipibo, which together are spoken by less than 1% of the population of Peru. Of the Peruvians that do speak an indigenous language, the majority are bilingual and also speak Spanish.

Many of the indigenous languages of Peru are endangered today, which is largely due to the urbanization which has caused certain sections of the country to distance themselves from their Amerindian roots for the purpose of urbanization. They also began adopting foreign languages such as Spanish as their primary languages, which has caused the nation’s government to begin taking steps to conserve the native Peruvian languages and keep them alive.


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