Ethnic Diversity in the Region of the Americas

The Region of the Americas is characterized by being multi-ethnic and multicultural. Indigenous peoples (who receive different denominations or conceptualizations according to the countries), Afro-descendants, Romani and members of other ethnic groups coexist in the Region of the Americas. Such diversity implies the recognition of different realities and needs among the countries of the Region, as within them.

In recent decades, important commitments and political initiatives have been developed for the recognition and respect of Human Rights and the Rights of ethnic communities and their members at global, regional and local levels. This has allowed more recognition, participation, visibility and integration of communities; a historically pending task by the states.

In Latin America, and the Caribbean, indigenous peoples population is approximately of 50 million people and reach around 8-10% of the population. While the Afro-descendant population is estimated at around 120 million people.

In the Region of the Americas, there are more than 700 indigenous peoples. Each group with a particular worldview and cosmogony that shape unique universes and therefore ways of being and living in the world in a particular territory. The indigenous peoples of the region speak more than 500 different languages, almost a quarter of which are cross-border languages, being used in two or more countries.

Indigenous people inhabit geographic areas of great diversity such as Patagonia, Chaco Ampliado, Amazonia, Orinoquia, Andes Mountains, Pacific Coastal Plain, Continental Caribbean, Lower Central America, Mesoamerica, and North America, including the Arctic Region. 87% of the indigenous people of Latin America live in Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru and Colombia. Brazil is the country with the highest diversity of indigenous peoples with 241 indigenous people who speak 188 different languages. (See List of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas)

This wide diversity is still an underestimated richness. The identity of both ethnic and non-ethnic communities and the quest to understand their past, live their present and to project their future represent challenges and opportunities for governments and citizens in general.