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Most Common Native South American Languages
(by number of speakers today)

This chart lists the thirty American Indian languages of South America which have the most native speakers. Note that this is only a chart of Native American languages, not ALL languages spoken in this continent. Among all languages, the top two languages spoken in South America are Portuguese and Spanish (with around 190 million speakers apiece.) Other non-indigenous languages with more than a million speakers in South America include English and Italian (with around 2 million speakers apiece.)

Also, be aware that in several of these cases, a "language" may actually include several related, but not identical, languages. For example, Quechua speakers in Ecuador and Bolivia really can not understand each other (although both of them may be able to understand an intermediate form of their language.) However, since these languages are not recorded separately on the census records of South American countries, it becomes very difficult to compare the total estimated number of speakers at a finer level than "Quechua." A good source for demographic information about individual languages, sublanguages and dialects is the Ethnologue of Languages.

Most Popular Indigenous South American Languages

Language name Country/region spoken Approximate number of speakers
1. Quechua Andean region of South America 8 million
2. Guarani Paraguay and surrounding area 5 million
3. Aymara Peru and Bolivia 2.5 million
4. Mapudungun Chile 500,000
5. Guajiro Venezuela and Colombia 200,000
6. Embera Colombia 70,000
7. Paez Colombia 60,000
8. Ashaninka Peru and Brazil 50,000



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