Chile’s “Official” Indigenous Population More than Doubles with New Census Results

Last week, the Chilean government released the results of its 2012 Census efforts. The data collected on Indigenous peoples living in Chile for the Census was substantial. Specifically, the information collected indicated that there are more than 1.7 million people living in Chile who identify as Indigenous. As a percentage of the population, Indigenous people living in Chile now officially account for over 10% of the total population with more than 1/3 of all Indigenous peoples living in the nation’s capital, Santiago.  Both the raw number of Indigenous people and the percentage of the total population numbers are substantially higher than those collected in 2002.

In 2002, the Chilean government’s official data revealed that there were less than 700,000 people living in Chile who identified as Indigenous. This number represented 4.5% of the total Chilean population. When the numbers were revealed after the 2002 Census, they were met with great skepticism and several Indigenous leaders accused the Chilean government of purposefully trying to make it look like the Indigenous population   was dwindling — some went as far as to call it “statistical genocide.”  For years, common opinion was that the number of Indigenous peoples far exceeded that reflected on official documents. The 2012 Census information corroborates that belief.

Below are the 2012 numbers for all nine recognized Indigenous peoples in Chile, and a copy of the 2012 Census data can be downloaded here.

2012 Census Results – Chile

Total Population: 16, 634, 603
Total Indigenous Population: 1,713,430

  • Aymara: 114,523
  • Colla: 13,678
  • Diaguita: 45,314
  • Kawashkar: 1,784
  • Lickan Antay (Atacameño): 6,101
  • Mapuche: 1,508,722
  • Quechua: 13,667
  • Rapa Nui: 8,406
  • Yagán: 1,235
See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Atacameño, Aymara, Chile, Colla, Diaguita, Kawashkar, Mapuche, Quechua, Rapa Nui, Yágan
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