Mexican Indigenous Languages

Languages Spoken in Mexico

Mexico Satellite Map
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Mexico is an extremely diverse country, both biologically (it's considered megadiverse, and is among the top five countries in the world in terms of biodiversity) and culturally. Spanish is Mexico's official language, and just over 60% of the population is mestizo, that is, a mix of indigenous and European heritage, but indigenous groups make up a significant part of the population, and many of those groups still conserve their traditions and speak their language.

Languages of Mexico

The Mexican government recognizes 62 indigenous languages that are still spoken today though many linguists assert that there are in fact over 100. The discrepancy is due to the fact that many of these languages have several variants which are sometimes considered distinct languages. The following table shows the different languages spoken in Mexico with the name of the language as it is called by speakers of that language appearing in parenthesis and the number of speakers.

The indigenous language that's spoken by the largest group of people by far is Náhuatl, with over two and a half million speakers. Náhuatl is the language spoken by the Mexica (pronounced meh-shee-ka) people, who are also sometimes referred to as Aztecs, who live mainly in the central part of Mexico. The second-most-spoken indigenous language is Maya, with about one and a half million speakers. The Maya live in Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula.


Mexican Indigenous Languages and Number of Speakers

Zapoteco (Diidzaj)785,000
Mixteco (ñuu savi)764,000
Otomí (ñahñu)566,000
Tzeltal (k'op)547,000
Tzotzil or (batzil k'op)514,000
Totonaca (tachihuiin)410,000
Mazateco (ha shuta enima)339,000
Mazahua (jñatio)254,000
Huasteco (tének)247,000
Chinanteco (tsa jujmi)224,000
Purépecha (tarasco)204,000
Mixe (ayook)188,000
Tlapaneco (mepha)146,000
Tarahumara (rarámuri)122,000
Zoque (o'de püt)88,000
Mayo (yoreme)78,000
Tojolabal (tojolwinik otik)74,000
Chontal de Tabasco (yokot'an)72,000
Chatino (cha'cña)66,000
Amuzgo (tzañcue)63,000
Huichol (wirrárica)55,000
Tepehuán (o'dam)44,000
Triqui (driki)36,000
Cora (naayeri)27,000
Yaqui (yoreme)25,000
Cuicateco (nduudu yu)24,000
Mame (qyool)24,000
Huave (mero ikooc)23,000
Tepehua (hamasipini)17,000
Pame (xigüe)14,000
Chontal de Oaxaca (slijuala xanuk)13,000
Chichimeca jonaz (uza)3,100
Guarijío (varojío)3,000
Matlatzinca (botuná)1,800
Chocholteca (chocho)1,600
Pima (otam)1,600
Jacalteco (abxubal)1,300
Ocuilteco (tlahuica)1,100
Seri (konkaak)910
Kikapú (kikapoa)580
Motozintleco (mochó)500
Paipai (akwa'ala)410
Kumiai (kamia)360
Pápago (tono ooh'tam)270
Lacandón (hach t'an)130
Kiliwa (k'olew)80

Data from CDI, Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas