8 Facts About Aymara People & Their Culture

The Aymaras are a group of indigenous inhabitants of the Andes Mountains in South America. A vast majority of them lives on Lake Titicaca.

Aymara comes from the name of the person who established the Inca Empire. They spoke the Aymara language and established themselves since pre-Columbian times, in southern Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. Aymara, along with Quechua and Spanish, is an official language of Bolivia and Peru.

Originally called jaqi aru, the Aymara language is still the major language in southeastern Peru and Bolivia. Archaeological evidences show that the Aymara people have occupied the Andes and other areas for at least 800 years, and the figure may soar up to 5,000 years.

For people poles apart from the love of history, this post is all about some facts about Aymara people, their culture and language.

1 Location

Aymara People

The Aymaras are concentrated on the Andean high plateau, in an area of 170,000 square meters. The history of Aymara is closely linked to Titicaca, in the region known as Altiplano. Altiplano, or the high plains, stands at an altitude of 3,812 meters. Due to its arid climate, Titicaca has always attracted a large number of groups wandering in search of better survival conditions.

2 Demography

Aymara People

The current population of 2 million is spread widely across the Latin America countries. Bolivia alone houses 1.5 million people – the largest number of Aymaras in America. Peru is home to 440,000 inhabitants, Chile to 41,000 and Argentina to 35,000.

3 Religious Beliefs And Principles

Aymaras adhere to the principles of Catholicism. Their ethnic group is related to Quechuas (the indigenous people of South America) family.

At present, these people are uniting to affirm their tradition and culture through ABYA YALA (the organization for the native nations of America.)

4 The History Of ABYA YALA

Aymara People

ABYA YALA was the name adopted by the autochthonous nations of America in 1992. Their main objective was to designate that continent instead of America. The foundation of ABYA YALA is a tribute to Américo Vespucci.
ABYA YALA is an expression from the language of the Kuna – the natives of Panama and Colombia. Kuna named these lands before the arrival of Columbus. Panama means “Earth in its full Maturity” or simply “Splendor of Earth.”
The reason behind the use of the name “ABYA YALA” in all official statements, according to the Aymara Bolivian leader Takir Mamani, was:

“To accept foreign names in our towns, our cities and our continent is tantamount to subjugating our identity to the will of our invaders and their heirs.”

This proposal led to the creation of the ABYA YALA movement. The moment also aimed to rescue ancestral wisdom as well as the integration of people into a single continent and a single Great Nation. They were inspired by the TAWANTISUYU OF INCAS who undertook the great integrative process for more than 500 years.

5 Linguistic Dispersion

In Peru the speakers of this language add more than 300,000 people, denouncing that the ethnic group is much bigger. The speakers there are much more concentrated in the department of Puno (near Lake Titicaca), in the regions Moquegua, Arequipa and Tacna.

Bolivia has about 1,200,000 Aymara speaking people, and is the form spoken in the capital of La Paz. It is the purest and most structured form of the language, with concentrations in the departments of Oruro and Chuquisaca.
The Aymara population in Chile has about 50,000 speakers. The population resides in the Andean regions of the north of the country, in Tarapaca and Antofagasta.

In Western Argentina, there are about 10,000 speakers of the language. At present there are almost 2.5 million people of ethnic and Aymara language, in the zone of the Andes. They are the second native group, only surpassed by Quechua. There are almost 15 million people scattered throughout the Andes.

6 Legacy Of Aymaras

Aymara People facts

The Aymara culture has its most precious good in the language. In a short period of domination, the Aymaras had inherited a rich legacy. They were unable to set solid social standards and lived a phase of settlement.

The common belief is that the Aymara language is related to the original Incan language of the Inca Empire. There also were strong objections from various scholars. Those who advocate linguistic kinship are based on similarities (for example, the word Condor is Kuntura in Aymara and Kuntur in Quechua.)

7 Inca Dominance On Aymara

Aymara People

What is considerable is that although advanced and prosperous, the original Aymara kingdoms ended up being dominated by the Inca emperor Huayna Capac between the years of 1493 and 1525.

Annexation was compulsory but not violent. The local language was influenced by the inclusion of the Aymara in the empire and the adoption of official language for bureaucratic effects.

Also, the Quechua linguistic influence was a direct reflection of the Inca cultural influence. It further imposed its religion in which the emperor himself was regarded as a deity.

The process was no different from what happened with the later Spanish domination that impregnated in Aymara language hodierno with several words and expressions of the Spanish language.

8 The Fate of Aymara language

Another phenomenon then occurred. The Spanish language was ironically inserted, so much that it is now an official language in a significant part of South America. The Aymara language was preserved because the Jesuits used it as a language of catechization pouring -in writing in Latin characters.

With the present scenario, the Aymara speakers need not spread their language further into the regions near Lake Titicaca because it is not used as a business or working language. The future of the people of Aymara is uncertain. They are subjected to discrimination by the government of Peru. The government does not give them the strength to develop better. The situation is different in Bolivia where the Aymara people are beginning to resurface.