What languages are spoken in Peru?

language in peru

Are you thinking of traveling to the Inca Lands? There are many different aspects to consider for your trip to Peru. How do you get to Peru? How will you travel? Where will you stay? What type of accommodation is offered? What are you going to see? Is it safe to travel without an organized tour? These are all valid questions to ask when planning your trip not only in Peru but also in all parts of the world. However, in this article, the Machu Travel Peru team will talk about another equally important topic, what language is spoken in Peru? Join us to learn about the different dialects that are spoken in the country and to what extent.

The different languages in Peru and their characteristics


quechua language spoken in peru

The main language in Peru is, of course, Spanish, spoken in all parts of Peru. Spanish is the official language of the country. Peruvian Spanish is mostly straightforward and easy to understand if you have some knowledge of the Spanish language. Spanish in Peru is mainly divided into Coastal, Andean, and the Spanish from the Amazon in Peru. For example, Spanish in the Cusco region is influenced by some of the local dialects, spoken in that region of Peru. Therefore, you may hear different words than those typically spoken in Lima.


quechua native language spoken in peru

There is a lot of slang, which is only spoken in the Spanish language in Peru. Such as “chibolo” for “muchacho” or boy in English, or “churro” and “papasito” for “guapo”, or good looking in English. Peruvians tend to add the suffix “-ito” on the end of a word as a term of affection. For example “papi” becomes “papito” which is the jargon that lovingly refers to your father. And “mami” becomes “mamita”, the term you would use for your dear mother. The Inca word for mother earth Pachamama also appears in conversations in Peru. You may also hear the word “pata“, which means someone from your group of friends, used primarily with the younger generation or a group of men talking about a coworker. If you have the time available within your Peru itinerary, it would be good if you meet locals to learn a bit of their lingo.


uros aymara language spoken in peru

Recently, the Inca language of Quechua has received the status of the official language of Peru. The Quechua language was spoken by the Incas and is widely spoken in the Peruvian Andes. A spoken language like the Inca had no written language; Quechua is full of wonderful sounds but it is extremely difficult to speak. Quechua and Spanish are often mixed to form a fun mix of words that only local people understand. The language in Peru has survived for more than five hundred years. When the Spanish arrived, they tried to erase the language, but with perseverance, it still remains today. Quechua is spoken by a third of the population of Peru and mainly in the mountains.


quechua language in peru

In big cities, there is usually a bit of discrimination concerning ancient traditions. With constant globalization where certain cultures overshadow others, the traditions of the country can be a bit outdated for the people of the big cities. This is why the Quechua language is not popular with people in the big cities, who seem to feel that the language is for the poor and uneducated. Former President Alejandro Toledo led a campaign to teach the language in schools. The project was successful as most schools teach some Quechua today. The former president delivered an inaugural speech in Quechua at the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu until his wife, who was born in Belgium, delivered her speech in Quechua. In the different tours in Peru, you will surely have the opportunity to hear the locals communicate in Quechua.


If you want to learn a bit of Quechua, you are in the right place. Here are some basic words to learn.

  • Yes > Riki
  • No > Mana
  • Mother > Mama
  • Father > Tayta
  • Thanks > Añay

There are many subdivisions and variants within the Quechua language family. So much so that some Quechua speakers find it difficult to communicate with people from different regions. A member of a Quechua community in northern Peru, for example, might have difficulty communicating with someone from Cusco, Puno, or the Lake Titicaca Islands.


aymara language in peru

Another common language in Peru is Aymara, which is used in southern Peru, mainly in the areas surrounding Puno and Lake Titicaca. This language is also strong in the north of Bolivia and the north of Chile, in all these areas there are around three million speakers of the language. Although it is a similar language to Quechua, Aymara has many differences. The main being the very distinct pronunciation. There have been many attempts to create a written language, but this has proven to be complicated, to say the least.


ashaninka language spoken in peru

The language was originally a series of symbols, mainly pictures of people or things. These symbols represented the things they portrayed. The symbols were never standardized and there were many variations in the way they were used. This also depended on the region. There are also many other languages including Jaqaru, Ashaninka, Aguaruna, Axinica, Caquinte, and Machiguenga to name a few. These languages are from many different parts of Peru but are not as spoken as Spanish, Quechua, or Aymara. Take advantage of tourism in Peru to learn about the different dialects spoken in Peru.


We hope together with the experts of Machu Travel Peru to have been of help. Remember that you can enjoy our personalized tours throughout all of Peru. In some destinations, you will be able to distinguish the wonderful languages in Peru. Especially in destinations like Cusco, Puno, and other Andean regions. If you want to know more about our incredible tours, you can consult with our qualified advisors.

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!