Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: Statistical Information

This report provides statistical information on indigenous peoples in Latin America, including populations and languages, socioeconomic data, land and natural resources, human rights and international legal conventions. Resource lists for each section (languages; socioeconomics; land and resources; international organizations; and human rights) are available in the appendix as well as a lists of national agencies that oversee indigenous affairs in each Central American or South American country.

Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: Statistical Information

February 13, 2020 (R46225)
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Contents

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Tables

Summary

This report provides statistical information on indigenous peoples in Latin America, including populations and languages, socioeconomic data, land and natural resources, human rights and international legal conventions. Resource lists for each section (languages; socioeconomics; land and resources; international organizations; and human rights) are available in the appendix as well as a lists of national agencies that oversee indigenous affairs in each Central American or South American country.


Introduction

Congress has long been interested in the status of indigenous peoples abroad. In 1992, the 102nd Congress enacted H.R. 5368 (P.L. 102-391) requiring the State Department's annual human rights report to "describe the extent to which indigenous people are able to participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions and the allocation of natural resources, and assess the extent of protection of their civil and political rights." Issues relating to indigenous peoples periodically have been considered in hearings focused on such issues as environmental protection, energy opportunities, and security cooperation.1

This report provides statistical information on indigenous peoples in Latin America, including populations and languages, socioeconomic data, land and natural resources, human rights, and international legal conventions. Resource lists for each section (languages; socioeconomics; land and resources; international organizations; and human rights) are available in the tables of Appendix A. Table B-1 lists national agencies that oversee indigenous affairs in each country.

Terms

Definitions of indigenous peoples vary. The United Nations (U.N.) has not adopted an official definition, but instead relies on self-identification to categorize indigenous populations around the world; many countries do the same. However, the U.N. web page dedicated to indigenous peoples does state "indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live."2 The annex of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states "indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources."

The Organization of American States' (OAS) American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples repeats the U.N. Declaration language and adds "indigenous peoples are original, diverse societies with their own identities that constitute an integral part of the Americas." According to OAS estimates, there are more than 50 million people of indigenous descent in the Western hemisphere. This report examines those living in Latin American and the Caribbean.

According to the Manual for National Human Rights Institutions that accompanied the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, "indigenous peoples have argued against the adoption of a formal definition at the international level, stressing the need for flexibility and for respecting the desire and the right of each indigenous people to define themselves.… As a consequence, no formal definition has been adopted in international law. A strict definition is seen as unnecessary and undesirable."3

In counting distinct groups, this report uses the term "indigenous groups" rather than "tribe," "nation," "ethnic minority," or "sociolinguistic group."

A 2019 United Nations report included sections titled "the need for disaggregated data" and "the persistent invisibility of indigenous peoples" to address data limitations regarding indigenous people around the globe. However, the report notes progress in Latin America: "only two censuses included self-identification criteria in the 1990 round, but by the 2010 round such criteria were present in 21 of them."4 Despite some advances, the sources cited in this report contain data limitations, which are discussed in Appendix A. The countries listed in each table or graph may differ from others in this report based on the information available in the sources.

Population Data

Latin America is home to 29-45 million indigenous people according to several studies that provided estimates for around 2010.5 The World Bank stated in a report that "official data on indigenous people are not conclusive, as many technical and sociological difficulties persist in census data collection. Other sources based on estimates and unofficial data refer to 50 million indigenous inhabitants in Latin America (about 10 percent of the total population). For this report, however, we will refer to the official—albeit imperfect—numbers provided by the national censuses [41.81 million]."6 Figure 1 illustrates the total number of indigenous people and their share of the total population according to three sources: a 2009 UNICEF report, a 2015 report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and a 2015 World Bank Report. Census projections forecast indigenous population increases in many countries in part due to populations that are younger on average than non-indigenous populations and in part due to an increase in self-identification.7

Figure 1. Total Indigenous Population and Percentage of General Population of Latin America

Source: Graphic created by CRS using UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade; and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) 2014 Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges.

Note: The ECLAC report includes a table titled "Latin America (17 countries): population of indigenous peoples according to censuses and estimates, around 2010." The World Bank report uses national censuses to provide demographic information and notes "for countries without census data available for the end of the decade, the indigenous population was estimated by applying the percentage of the last census to the 2010 projection of the national population.

Table 1 shows a breakdown by country of indigenous populations and their share of the overall population. CRS created the following tables from several sources; publication dates and methodologies differed. The countries listed in each table may differ from others in this report based on the information available in the sources.

Table 1. Indigenous Populations and Percentages of General Population in Latin America by Country

Country

UNICEF 2009 Indigenous Population (% of general pop.)a

ECLAC 2014 Indigenous Population (% of general pop.)b

WB 2015 Indigenous Population (% of general pop.)c

Argentina

600,329

(1.6%)

955,032

(2.4%)

955,032

(2.4%)

Belize

38,562

(16.6%)

N/A 

N/A 

Bolivia

5,358,107

(66.2%)

6,216,026

(62.2%)

4,115,226

(41%)

Brazil

734,127

(0.4%)

896,917

(0.5%)

817,963

(0.5%)

Chile

692,192

(4.6%)

1,805,243

(11%)

788,935

(4.6%)

Colombia

1,392,623

(3.3%)

1,559,852

(3.4%)

1,532,678

(3.3%)

Costa Rica

65,548

(1.7%)

104,143

(2.4%)

104,143

(2.4%)

Ecuador

830,418

(6.8%)

1,018,176

(7%)

1,018,176

(7%)

El Salvador

13,310

(0.2%)

14,408

(0.2%)

14,865

(0.2%)

Guatemala

4,487,026

(39.9%)

5,881,009

(41%)

5,880,046

(41%)

Guyana

68,819

(9.1%)

N/A 

N/A 

Honduras

440,313

(7.2%)

536,541

(7%)

548,727

(7.2%)

Mexico

9,504,184

(9.4%)

16,933,283

(15.1%)

16,836,877

(15%)

Nicaragua

292,244

(5.7%)

518,104

(8.9%)

349,333

(6%)

Panama

285,231

(10%)

417,559

(12.3%)

417,559

(12.2%)

Paraguay

108,308

(2%)

112,848

(1.8%)

112,848

(1.7%)

Peru

3,919,314

(13.9%)

7,021,271

(24%)

7,596,039

(26%)

Suriname

6,601

(1.5%)

N/A 

N/A 

Uruguay

115,118

(3.5%)

76,452

(2.4%)

N/A 

Venezuela

534,816

(2.3%)

724,592

(2.7%)

724,592

(2.8%)

TOTAL

29,373,208

(6.1%)

44,791,456

(8.3%)

41,813,039

(7.8%)

Source: Compiled by CRS using the following sources: UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) 2014 Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges; and the World Bank Group's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade.

Notes:

a. UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' 2009 Atlas covered 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and the population figures vary by country from 1999 to 2008.

b. ECLAC's 2014 report covered 17 countries in Latin America with population figures "according to censuses and estimates, around 2010."

c. The World Bank's 2015 report covered 16 countries in Latin America and the population figures vary by country from 2001 to 2012 with some projections for 2010.

Figure 2 illustrates the range of estimates regarding the indigenous population as a percentage of the general population in each country. Bolivia's steep decrease in the indigenous population reflects "reasons that probably have more to do with discrepancies in how the data were collected between the last two censuses than with a real trend to negative growth," according to the World Bank.8 More generally, differences in data collection between censuses and across countries make it difficult to estimate population increases.

Figure 2. Indigenous Population in Latin America as Percentage of General Population by Country

Source: Graphic created by CRS using UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade; and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) 2014 Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges.

Notes: The sources note that figures are based on national censuses. For more details see Appendix A.

Indigenous Groups and Languages

To raise awareness and mobilize action, the U.N. declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages,9 yet figures on indigenous groups and languages vary among sources.

Data on indigenous ethnic groups

"As for the number and distribution of ethnic groups, the issue is even more problematic and the regional censuses might not be the best source, because ethnic frontiers rarely match national borders and no country keeps track of cross-border populations. Also, different ethnic groups sometimes receive… names given to several unconnected peoples…. On the other hand, a single group or linguistic family might receive different names in different countries—such as the several groups of Maya peoples inhabiting a large area of southern Mexico and Central America."

-- World Bank's Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade10

Figure 3 shows the total number of indigenous groups in Latin America as identified by three sources. A 2009 UNICEF report identified a total of 655 indigenous groups in Latin America.11 The 2014 ECLAC report cites 826 indigenous groups in Latin America although it does not provide a country breakdown.12 Of these 826, about 200 indigenous groups live in voluntary isolation, which is defined by an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report as groups that "do not maintain sustained contacts with the majority non-indigenous population."13 The World Bank's 2015 report identifies 772 indigenous groups in Latin America.14

Figure 3. Total Number of Indigenous Groups in Latin America

Source: Graphic created by CRS using UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade; and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) 2014 Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges.

Notes: These figures exclude French Guiana and Caribbean island nations.

According to several sources, indigenous languages number fewer than the number of indigenous groups across the region (see Figure 4). The 2015 World Bank report found 558 indigenous languages across 20 countries of Latin America,15 while a 2009 UNICEF report found 551 languages across the same 20 countries.16 Of these 551, the latter report found that 111 languages are vulnerable to extinction although five (Quechua, Nahuatl, Aymara, Yucatan Maya, and Ki'che') had over a million speakers each. In 2019, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL International) reported 880 indigenous languages are spoken across the same 20 Latin American countries.17

Figure 4. Total Number of Indigenous Languages in Latin America

Source: Graphic created by CRS using UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade; and SIL International's 2019 Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Twenty-second ed.).

Notes: Numbers indicate the number of languages spoken.

Table 2 shows a breakdown of Latin America's indigenous groups and languages by country according to two sources. CRS created the table from several sources; publication dates and methodologies differed. The countries listed in each table may differ from others in this report based on the information available in the sources.

Table 2. Indigenous Groups and Languages of Latin America by Country

Country

UNICEF 2009 Indigenous Groups (languages)a

WB 2015 Indigenous Groups (languages)b

Argentina

30

(15)

30

(15)

Belize

4

(4)

4

(4)

Bolivia

36

(33)

114

(33)

Brazil

241

(186)

241

(186)

Chile

9

(6)

9

(6)

Colombia

83

(65)

83

(65)

Costa Rica

8

(7)

8

(7)

Ecuador

12

(12)

32

(13)

El Salvador

3

(1)

3

(1)

Guatemala

24

(24)

24

(24)

Guyana

9

(9)

9

(9)

Honduras

7

(6)

7

(6)

Mexico

67

(64)

67

(67)

Nicaragua

9

(6)

9

(6)

Panama

8

(8)

7

(7)

Paraguay

20

(20)

20

(20)

Peru

43

(43)

52

(47)

Suriname

5

(5)

5

(5)

Uruguay

0

(0)

0

(0)

Venezuela

37

(37)

50

(37)

TOTAL

655

(551)

774

(558)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' (UNICEF) 2009 Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina; and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank's (WB) 2015 Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade.

Notes: This report uses "peoples" rather than "tribe," "nation," "ethnic minority," or "sociolinguistic group."

a. While UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes' 2009 Atlas covered 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, French Guiana, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are not otherwise included.

b. While the World Bank's 2015 report covered 16 countries in Latin America, French Guiana is not included in this report.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 15,000-19,000 indigenous language speakers from Latin America reside in the United States.18

Additional resources about indigenous groups and languages can be found in Table A-1.

Socioeconomic Data

In a 2015 publication, the World Bank found that 43% of indigenous people in Latin America are poor (living on less than $5.50 a day in 2011 purchasing power parity prices or PPP), and 24% are extremely poor (living on less than $1.90 a day in 2011 PPP prices), more than twice the rates for non-indigenous people. The report also documented education gaps were across the region.19 Drawing from another World Bank resource, Figure 5 compares rates of indigenous peoples living on less than $5.50 a day compared to the general population in select countries of Central and South America.

Figure 5. Rates of Indigenous People Living on Less than $5.50 a Day in Select Latin American Countries

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity – Poverty."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented are based on a regional data harmonization effort comprised of the World Bank and the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies, which may differ from official statistics. Monetary values are reported in USD 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Last updated October 2018.

The World Bank provides statistics on access to various services and opportunities for indigenous peoples in select countries of Central and South America, last updated in October 2018. The following graphs compare indigenous rates of access to these amenities compared with the general population rates by country (Figure 6, electricity; Figure 7, internet; Figure 8, home ownership; Figure 9, sewage; and Figure 10, water).

Figure 6. Electricity Access Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Access to Services."

Note: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 7. Internet Access Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Access to Services."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 8. Ownership of Dwelling Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Access to Services."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 9. Sewage Access Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Access to Services."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 10. Water Access Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Access to Services."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented here are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

The World Bank also provides labor and education statistics for indigenous peoples in select countries of Central and South America, last updated in October 2018. The following graphs compare indigenous rates compared with general population rates by country (Figure 11, literacy; Figure 12, school attendance; Figure 13, unemployment; and Figure 14, low-skill and high-skill employment).

Figure 11. Literacy Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Socio-demographics."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented here are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 12. School Attendance Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Socio-demographics."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented here are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 13. Unemployment Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Socio-demographics."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented here are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

Figure 14. High & Low-Skill Occupation Rates in Select Latin American Countries (2018)

Source: Graphic created by CRS using data from the World Bank's LAC Equity Lab web page "Ethnicity - Socio-demographics."

Notes: The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. The numbers presented here are based on a variety of sources, which may differ from official statistics reported by governments and national statistical offices. Last updated October 2018.

In the appendix, Table A-2 lists resources relating to the socioeconomic standing of indigenous peoples in Latin America.

Land and Natural Resources

A 2017 World Resources Institute (WRI) report states "the precise amount of communal land is not known, but many experts argue that at least half of the world's land is held by Indigenous Peoples and other communities. Some estimates are as high as 65 percent or more of the global land area." The WRI goes on to specify that "globally, Indigenous Peoples and local communities have formal legal ownership of 10 percent of the land, and have some degree of government-recognized management rights over an additional 8 percent."20

The United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) 2014 report Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges states that "over the past decade, booming international demand for primary goods (minerals, hydrocarbons, soybeans and other agricultural commodities) has boosted economic growth in the countries of Latin America but has had its cost in the form of a growing number of environmental, social and ethnic conflicts involving extractive industries located in or near indigenous territories."21

According a 2012 Forest Peoples Programme global report, "[A]n estimated 350 million people live inside or close to dense forests, largely dependent on these areas for subsistence and income, while an estimated range of 60 million to 200 million indigenous people are almost wholly dependent on forests."22 For the region of Mexico, Central and South America, the report estimates 42-48 million indigenous peoples and 21-26 million forest peoples.23 Some but not all indigenous peoples are also forest peoples. Some countries did not have population figures for forest people.

A 2018 Science article classifies drivers of global tree cover loss using satellite imagery. In Latin America, deforestation accounts for over half of the tree cover loss, shifting agriculture about a third, and, to a smaller degree, forestry, wildfire, and urbanization.24

In the 2015 report Indigenous Peoples, Communities of African Descent, Extractive Industries, the IACHR wrote that "through the implementation of its monitoring mechanisms, the Commission has consistently received information evidencing the human, social, health, cultural and environmental impacts of [extraction, exploitation, and development activities concerning natural resources] on indigenous peoples and Afrodescendent communities. Many extractive and development activities in the hemisphere are implemented in lands and territories historically occupied by indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, which often coincide with areas hosting a great wealth of natural resources."25

Table A-3 lists resources about indigenous peoples' lands and natural resources in Latin America. While the titles may not exclusively focus on indigenous peoples, the industries' impact on indigenous people is a part of the analysis of each resource.

Human Rights and Multilateral Instruments

Various international human rights mechanisms protect the rights of indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. Table 3 identifies those countries that have ratified or voted in favor of the following three multilateral instruments on indigenous peoples' rights:

  • International Labor Organization's Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169).26 The convention includes sections on land; recruitment and conditions of employment; vocational training, handicrafts and rural industries; and social security and health; education and means of communication.
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).27 The 2007 declaration covers such topics as self-determination or autonomy; land and environment; employment; religion; language and media; education; discrimination and violence; and health.
  • American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP).28 The 2016 declaration approved by the Organization of American States includes sections on human and collective rights; cultural identity; organizational and political rights; and social, economic and property rights.

Table 3. Latin America and Multilateral Instruments on Indigenous Peoples' Rights

Country

Ratified ILO No. 169a

Voted in favor of adopting UNDRIP

Voted in favor of adopting ADRIP

Argentina

X

X

X

Belize

 

X

X

Bolivia

X

X

X

Brazil

X

X

X

Chile

X

X

X

Colombia

X

Xb

Xc

Costa Rica

X

X

X

Ecuador

X

X

X

El Salvador

--

X

X

Guatemala

X

X

X

Guyana

--

X

X

Honduras

X

X

X

Jamaica

--

X

X

Mexico

X

X

X

Nicaragua

X

X

X

Panama

--

X

X

Paraguay

X

X

X

Peru

X

X

X

Suriname

--

X

X

Uruguay

--

X

X

Venezuela

X

X

X

Source: Compiled by CRS using the following sources: ILO's web page "Ratifications of C169 - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)," the U.N. web page "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People," and the OAS' official publication of ADRIP.

Notes:

a. International Labor Organization, "Ratifications of C169 - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)," at https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11300:0::NO:11300:P11300_INSTRUMENT_ID:312314.

b. From the region, only Colombia abstained from the vote. See U.N, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People," September 13, 2007, at https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html.

c. In the footnotes, Colombia "breaks with consensus" on paragraphs within Articles XXIII, XXIX, and XXX. See Organization of American States, "American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," June 15, 2016, at https://www.oas.org/en/sare/documents/DecAmIND.pdf.

d. Cuba is not a voting member. See Organization of American States, "Member States," accessed on April 22, 2019, at http://www.oas.org/en/member_states/default.asp.

The United Nations has a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and in 2001 created the Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which promote the rights of indigenous peoples across the globe.29 In 1990, the Organization of American States created the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to promote the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere.30 Table A-4 provides additional resources about the work of international organizations with indigenous peoples.

In a 2000 report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) wrote "concern for the human rights of indigenous peoples and their members has been a constant feature in the work of the Commission."31 The IACHR has tracked its work involving indigenous peoples. It hosts multiple sessions per year to hold hearings regarding human rights issues affecting a particular country or subregion of the Western Hemisphere. One of the categories for hearings is the rights of indigenous peoples. Table 4 shows the number of IACHR hearings by country involving indigenous peoples' rights. It also shows the number of Inter-American Court of Human Rights cases brought by indigenous peoples against countries.

Table 4. Human Rights Hearings and Cases about the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Inter-American System 1996-2019

Country

Hearings on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Cases brought by Indigenous Peoples

Colombia

25

1

Peru

20

0

Guatemala

17

5

Ecuador

13

2

Mexico

12

2

Brazil

11

1

Chile

9

0

Panama

8

1

Argentina

8

1

Bolivia

8

0

Nicaragua

8

1

Honduras

7

1

Venezuela

4

0

Costa Rica

4

0

Paraguay

3

2

Belize

2

0

Suriname

1

2

Guyana

1

0

Regionala

27

N/A

Source: CRS table created using data from the IACHR's Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and reflects sessions 91-172 (February 1996-September 2019).

Notes: Hearings include topical hearings as well as cases, petitions, and precautionary measures. Hearings information is not available for all sessions, particularly before 1996.

a. The IACHR uses this category for hearings that span multiple countries. Where countries were named along with the tag "regional," the hearing was counted for all entities tagged.

In the appendix, Table A-5 lists publications that document various human rights issues confronting indigenous peoples. CRS also publishes a number of reports with country-specific information on indigenous peoples' human rights issues.32

Appendix A. Data Sources and Resources Lists

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Fundación para la Educación en Contextos de Multilingüismo y Pluriculturalidad (the Foundation for Education in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts or FUNPROEIB) gathered data in 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2009 for its report in two volumes titled Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina. The report notes the limitations of using national censuses.33

In 2014, the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) gathered population data from 17 Latin American countries using national censuses for Guaranteeing Indigenous People's Rights in Latin America: Progress in the past Decade and Remaining Challenges. The report notes that most countries ask people to self-identify as indigenous with the exception of Peru, which asks people if they speak an indigenous language.34

In 2015, the World Bank gathered data in 16 countries using national censuses and household survey data in order to publish Indigenous Latin America in the Twenty-First Century: the First Decade.35 The report notes that the definition of who is indigenous has become increasingly controversial and "underscores the complexity of identifying indigenous people across the region and argues that the conditions of indigeneity vary over time and are, in some cases, context- and country-specific."36

The current edition of Ethnologue documents language counts for each country and divides them into indigenous and non-indigenous categories. Indigenous languages figures were used in Table 2 as non-indigenous is defined as "a language that did not originate in the country, but which is now established there either as a result of its longstanding presence or because of institutionally supported use and recognition."37 Only living languages were included in the count, not languages classified as extinct. Ethnologue's "about" section provides details on the methodology, language names, and status of usage.

The World Bank's Latin America and Caribbean Equity Lab provides data on poverty, access to services, education and labor (last updated in October 2018). The World Bank notes that ethnic identity is based on self-reported data. Statistics may vary from official statistics reported by governments as the World Bank uses SEDLAC, "a regional data harmonization effort that increases cross-country comparability."

The web page of the Inter-American Commission's Human Rights Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides detailed information on hearings and court cases related to indigenous peoples' rights.

The data on drivers of forest loss in Latin America are from: Philip G. Curtis, Christy M. Slay, Nancy L. Harris, Alexandra Tyukavina, Matthew C. Hansen, "Classifying drivers of global forest loss," Science, Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1108-1111, September 14, 2018, at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6407/1108. There are multiple methodologies for each driver of forest loss using map-based estimates and sample-based estimates.

For each table below, sources are listed in reverse chronological order with the year in parentheses following the title. Multiple sources from the same year are listed alphabetically as are sources without a publication date, such as websites. Some sources are global, with a section dedicated to Latin America.

Table A-1. Resources on Indigenous Languages in Latin America

Title

Author

Resource Type

URL

Celebrating Indigenous Languages (2019)

Google Earth

Interactive website

https://earth.google.com/web/data=CiQSIhIgYTY1Y2U1NTk3MzE4MTFlOTkzN2RjN2JkNTNhNDc1ZGI

International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019)

United Nations

Website

https://en.iyil2019.org/

Languages of the World, Twenty-second edition (2019)

David M. Eberhard, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fenning (editors), Ethnologue

Language encyclopedia

http://www.ethnologue.com

Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina, Volúmenes I and II (2009)

UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes

Report in Spanish

https://www.unicef.org/honduras/tomo_1_atlas.pdf; https://www.unicef.org/honduras/tomo_2_atlas.pdf

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Table A-2. Resources on Indigenous Socioeconomics

Title

Author

Resource Type

URL

Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development (2019)

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Report on OECD member countries including Chile and Mexico with some information on non-member countries

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/urban-rural-and-regional-development/linking-indigenous-communities-with-regional-development_97353723-en

State of the world`s indigenous peoples: Education, 3rd volume (2017)

United Nations

Report

http://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2017/12/State-of-Worlds-Indigenous-Peoples_III_WEB2018.pdf

Indigenous Latin America in the twenty-first century: the first decade (2015)

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank

Report

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2016/02/24863854/indigenous-latin-america-twenty-first-century-first-decade

The state of the world´s indigenous people: Indigenous people´s access to health services, 2nd volume (2015)

United Nations

Report

https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/publications/2015/09/state-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples-2nd-volume-health/

LAC Equity Lab: A Platform for Poverty and Inequality Analysis

World Bank

Regional economic data and maps

http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/lac-equity-lab1

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Table A-3. Resources on Indigenous Land and Natural Resources in Latin America

Title

Author

Resource Type

URL

Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest (2019)

Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker

Long article

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/11/blood-gold-in-the-brazilian-rain-forest?utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Magazine_Daily_110419&utm_medium=email&bxid=5d5c9101576f2c67c471c6f8&cndid=29183913&esrc=&mbid=&utm_term=TNY_Daily

Rainforest Mafias: How Violence and Impunity Fuel Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon (2019)

Human Rights Watch

Report

https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/09/17/rainforest-mafias/how-violence-and-impunity-fuel-deforestation-brazils-amazon

Situation of Human Rights of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Pan-Amazon Region (2019)

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Report

http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/Panamazonia2019-en.pdf

Looted Amazon (2018)

Infoamazonia and Amazon Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information Network

Report

https://illegalmining.amazoniasocioambiental.org/?lang=en

Organized Crime and Illegally Mined Gold in Latin America (2016)

Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

Report

https://globalinitiative.net/organized-crime-and-illegally-mined-gold-in-latin-america/

Amazonía Socioambiental

Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network, a consortium of civil society organizations from several countries

Maps and publications (English, Spanish, Portuguese)

https://www.amazoniasocioambiental.org/en/maps/

Environmental Justice Atlas

Autonomous University of Barcelona's Institute of Environmental Science and Technology

Map with information about level of conflict, communities, commodities, companies, and governmental agencies involved, and reference links

https://ejatlas.org/

Indigenous peoples and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean

FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Website

http://www.fao.org/americas/prioridades/pueblos-indigenas/en/

Authorized to Steal: Organized Crime Networks Launder Illegal Timber from the Peruvian Amazon (2019)

Center for International Environmental Law

Report

https://www.ciel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Authorized-to-Steal-July-2019.pdf

Landmark Map

World Resources Institute, International Land Coalition and others

Maps, data, country profiles

https://www.landmarkmap.org/

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Table A-4. Resources on International Organizations and Indigenous Peoples in Latin America

Title

Author

Resource Type

URL

The state of the world´s indigenous people: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 4th volume (2019)

United Nations

Report

https://social.un.org/unpfii/sowip-vol4-web.pdf

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Portal

World Intellectual Property Organization

Website provides access to publications and events

https://www.wipo.int/tk/en/indigenous/

Indigenous Peoples—OAS

Organization of American States

Website provides access to the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Summits of the Americas, special projects and more

http://www.oas.org/en/topics/indigenous_peoples.asp

Indigenous and tribal peoples

International Labor Organization

Website provides access to projects, publications and supervision of conventions

https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/indigenous-tribal/lang--en/index.htm

United Nations for Indigenous Peoples

United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Website provides access to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, expert group meetings, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and more

https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Table A-5. Resources on Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights in Latin America

Title

Author

Resource Type

URL

Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2019 (2020)

Front Line Defenders

Report about physical, digital, legal and social attacks against human rights defenders

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/sites/default/files/global_analysis_2019_web.pdf

Indigenous Navigator (2018)

Community-generated data, website supported by the European Union

Website and database

http://nav.indigenousnavigator.com/

Indigenous Women and Their Human Rights in the Americas (2017)

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Report with hearings, cases, thematic and country reports that document violations of the human rights of indigenous women

http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/IndigenousWomen.pdf

Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges (2014)

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

Report

https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/37051/4/S1420782_en.pdf

Captive Communities: Situation of the Guaraní Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco (2009)

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Report with background information and state legislation and initiatives

https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/indigenous/docs/pdf/CAPTIVECOMMUNITIES.pdf

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. State Department

Annual report with chapters about each country with section "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons" that includes indigenous peoples

https://www.state.gov/reports-bureau-of-democracy-human-rights-and-labor/country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/

Indigenous World

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

Annual report about developments affecting indigenous peoples with chapters about each country

https://www.iwgia.org/en/resources/indigenous-world

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Appendix B. National Agencies of Indigenous Affairs

Table B-1. Principal National Agencies Overseeing Indigenous Affairs

Country

Agency (parent agency, office)

Website

Argentina

Secretaría de Derechos Humanos, Instituto Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas

https://www.argentina.gob.ar/derechoshumanos/inai

Bolivia

Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo, Viceministro de Interculturalidad & Viceministro de Descolonización

http://www.minculturas.gob.bo/es/articulo/336-viceministro-de-interculturalidad

http://www.minculturas.gob.bo/es/articulo/17-viceministro-de-descolonizacin

Brazil

Ministério da Mulher, da Família e dos Direitos Humanos, Fundação Nacional do Índio; Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento

http://www.funai.gov.br/

http://www.agricultura.gov.br/

Chile

Ministerio de Desarrollo Social, Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena

http://www.conadi.gob.cl/

Colombia

Ministerio del Interior, Viceministerio para la Participación e Igualdad de Derechos, Dirección de Asuntos Indígenas, ROM y Minorías

https://www.mininterior.gov.co/mision/direccion-de-asuntos-indigenas-rom-y-minorias

Costa Rica

Comisión Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas

http://www.conai.go.cr/

Ecuador

Consejo Nacional para la Igualdad de Pueblos y Nacionalidades

http://www.pueblosynacionalidades.gob.ec/

El Salvador

Ministerio de Cultura, Departamento de Pueblos Indígenas

http://www.cultura.gob.sv/departamento-de-pueblos-indigenas/

Guatemala

Ministerio Público, Secretaría de Pueblos Indígenas

https://www.mp.gob.gt/noticias/

Guyana

Ministry of Indigenous Peoples' Affairs

https://moipa.gov.gy/

Honduras

Secretaría de Desarrollo e Inclusión Social, Dirección de Pueblos Indígenas y Afrohondureños

http://dinafroh.sedis.gob.hn/

Mexico

Instituto Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas; Secretaría de Cultura, Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas;

https://www.gob.mx/inpi

Nicaragua

Asamblea Nacional, Comisión de Asuntos de los Pueblos Originarios, Afrodescendientes y Regímenes Autonómicos; Comisión Nacional de Demarcación y Titulación

http://legislacion.asamblea.gob.ni/Tablas%20Generales.nsf/InfoComision.xsp

Panama

Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia, Viceministerio de Asuntos Indígenas; Ministerio de Salud, Dirección de Asuntos Sanitarios Indígenas

http://www.mingob.gob.pa/viceministerio-asuntos-indigenas/

http://www.minsa.gob.pa/direccion/direccion-de-asuntos-sanitarios-indigenas

Paraguay

Presidencia de la República, Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena

http://www.indi.gov.py/

Peru

Ministerio de Cultura, Viceministerio de Interculturalidad, Dirección de Políticas indígenas

http://cultura.gob.pe/es/interculturalidad/politicasindigenas

Uruguay

Ministerio del Interior, Área Étnico Racial

https://www.minterior.gub.uy/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3447

Venezuela

Ministerio del Poder Popular para los Pueblos Indígenas

http://www.minpi.gob.ve/

Source: Compiled by CRS.

Author Contact Information

Carla Y. Davis-Castro, Research Librarian ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

For example, see the following hearings that have touched on issued related to indigenous peoples: U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, Narcotics and Terrorism, Environmental Protection in an Era of Dramatic Economic Growth in Latin America, 106th Cong., 2nd sess., July 25, 2000 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2000); U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, U.S.–Mexico Security Cooperation: An Overview of the Merida Initiative 2008–Present, 113th Cong., 1st sess., May 23, 2013 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2013); U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Energy Opportunities in South America, 115th Cong., 1st sess., May 17, 2017 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2017).

2.

U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, "Indigenous Peoples at the UN," at https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/about-us.html.

3.

United Nations, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions, HR/PUB/13/2, 2013, at https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/UNDRIPManualForNHRIs.pdf. For more information about the United Nations, the International Labor Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization, see CRS Report R43614, Membership in the United Nations and Its Specialized Agencies, by Luisa Blanchfield and Marjorie Ann Browne.

4.

United Nations, The state of the world´s indigenous people: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 4th volume, ST/ESA/371, 2019, at https://social.un.org/unpfii/sowip-vol4-web.pdf.

5.

In this report, Latin America includes Mexico, the land mass of Central America (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama), and the land mass of South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay). The exception is French Guiana, which is an overseas department of France and is not included in this report.

6.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank, Indigenous Latin America in the Twenty-First Century: the First Decade, 2015, pp. 6, 9, at http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2016/02/24863854/indigenous-latin-america-twenty-first-century-first-decade, p. 24. Hereinafter: World Bank, 2015.

7.

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Guaranteeing indigenous people's rights in Latin America: Progress in the past decade and remaining challenges, November 2014, p. 40, at https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/37051/4/S1420782_en.pdf. Hereinafter: ECLAC, 2014.

8.

World Bank, 2015, p. 10.

9.

United Nations, "International Year of Indigenous Languages," at https://en.iyil2019.org/.

10.

IBRD and World Bank, 2015, p. 24.

11.

UNICEF and FUNPROEIB Andes, Atlas Sociolingüístico de Pueblos Indígenas en América Latina Vol. I, 2009, p. 68, at https://www.unicef.org/honduras/tomo_1_atlas.pdf. Hereinafter, UNICEF, 2009. This figures excludes 10 indigenous groups from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, French Guiana, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, which are not otherwise included in the report.

12.

ECLAC, 2014, pp. 38-39.

13.

Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact in the Americas: Recommendations for the full respect of their human rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc.47/13, 2013, p. 4, at http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/indigenous/docs/pdf/report-indigenous-peoples-voluntary-isolation.pdf.

14.

IBRD and World Bank, 2015, p. 26. This figure excludes six indigenous groups from French Guiana.

15.

Ibid. This figure excludes six languages in French Guiana.

16.

UNICEF, 2009, p. 81. This figure includes six languages in French Guiana.

17.

David M. Eberhard, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fenning (editors), Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-second edition, SIL International, 2019, at https://www.ethnologue.com/.

18.

Language is a proxy for Latin American indigenous presence in the United States. See the U.S. Census Bureau, 2006-2008 American Community Survey, "Detailed Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Older by States: 2006-2008," April 2010, at https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2008/demo/2006-2008-lang-tables.html; see also U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 American Community Survey, "Detailed Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over: 2009-2013," October 2015, at https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2013/demo/2009-2013-lang-tables.html.

19.

IBRD and World Bank, 2015, pp. 12, 127, 9, 34-37.

20.

Peter Veit and Katie Reytar, "By the Numbers: Indigenous and Community Land Rights," World Resources Institute, March 20, 2017, at https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/03/numbers-indigenous-and-community-land-rights.

21.

ECLAC, 2014, p. 50.

22.

Sophie Chao, Forest Peoples: Numbers across the world, Forest Peoples Programme, p. 7, at http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/fpp/files/publication/2012/05/forest-peoples-numbers-across-world-final_0.pdf.

23.

Ibid., pp. 9-10.

24.

Philip G. Curtis, Christy M. Slay, Nancy L. Harris, Alexandra Tyukavina, Matthew C. Hansen, "Classifying drivers of global forest loss," Science, Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1108-1111, September 14, 2018, at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6407/1108. For more information about the Brazilian Amazon, see CRS In Focus IF11306, Fire and Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, by Pervaze A. Sheikh et al. For more information about illegal logging around the world, see CRS In Focus IF11114, International Illegal Logging: Background and Issues, by Pervaze A. Sheikh, Lucas F. Bermejo, and Kezee Procita.

25.

Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Communities of African Descent, Extractive Industries, OEA/Ser.L/V/II, Doc. 47/15, December 31, 2015, at http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/ExtractiveIndustries2016.pdf, p. 9.

26.

International Labor Organization, "Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)," 1989, at https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C169.

27.

United Nations, "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," September 13, 2007, at https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf.

28.

Organization of American States, "American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," June 15, 2016, at https://www.oas.org/en/sare/documents/DecAmIND.pdf. For more information on the Organization of American States, see CRS Report R42639, Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress, by Peter J. Meyer.

29.

U.N. Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, "Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples," at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx.

30.

Organization of American States, "Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," at http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/indigenous/.

31.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, The Human Rights Situation of the Indigenous People in the Americas, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.108, Doc. 62, October 20, 2000, at http://www.cidh.org/Indigenas/TOC.htm.

32.

See CRS Report R43813, Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations, by June S. Beittel; CRS Report R42580, Guatemala: Political and Socioeconomic Conditions and U.S. Relations, by Maureen Taft-Morales; CRS Report R42917, Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations, by Clare Ribando Seelke and Edward Y. Gracia; and CRS Report R44841, Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations, coordinated by Clare Ribando Seelke.

33.

UNICEF, 2009. pp. vii-ix.

34.

ECLAC, 2014, pp. 34-36.

35.

IBRD and World Bank, 2015, pp. 6, 9.

36.

Ibid.

37.

David M. Eberhard, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fenning (editors), "Language Information," Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-second edition, SIL International, 2019, at https://www.ethnologue.com/about/language-info.