Mapuche woman chile.jpg
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Chile1,508,722 (2012)[1]
 Argentina205,009 (2010)[2]
Mapudungun • Spanish
Christianity (Catholicism and Evangelicalism) adapted to traditional beliefs
Related ethnic groups
Picunche, Huilliche, Benei Sión

The Mapuches are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of present-day Patagonia. The collective term refers to a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. Their influence once extended from the Aconcagua River to the Chiloé Archipelago and spread later eastward to the Argentine pampa. Today the collective group makes up over 80% of the indigenous peoples in Chile, and about 9% of the total Chilean population. They are particularly concentrated in Araucanía. Many have migrated to the Santiago and Buenos Aires area for economic opportunities.

The Mapuche traditional economy is based on agriculture; their traditional social organization consists of extended families, under the direction of a lonko or chief. In times of war, they would unite in larger groupings and elect a toki (meaning "axe, axe-bearer") to lead them. They are known for the textiles woven by women, which have been goods for trade for centuries, since before the arrival of European explorers.

At the time of Spanish arrival the Araucanian Mapuche inhabited the valleys between the Itata and Toltén rivers. South of it, the Huilliche and the Cunco lived as far south as the Chiloé Archipelago. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Mapuche groups migrated eastward into the Andes and pampas, fusing and establishing relationships with the Poya and Pehuenche. At about the same time, ethnic groups of the pampa regions, the Puelche, Ranquel and northern Aonikenk, made contact with Mapuche groups. The Tehuelche adopted the Mapuche language and some of their culture, in what came to be called Araucanization.

Some Mapuche mingled with Spanish during colonial times, and their descendants make up the large group of mestizos in Chile. But Mapuche society in Araucanía and Patagonia remained independent until the Chilean Occupation of Araucanía and the Argentine Conquest of the Desert in the late 19th century. Since then Mapuche have become subjects, and then nationals and citizens of the respective states. Today, many Mapuche and Mapuche communities are engaged in the so-called Mapuche conflict over land and indigenous rights in both Argentina and in Chile.


Historically the Spanish colonizers of South America referred to the Mapuche people as Araucanians (araucanos). However, this term is now considered pejorative[3] by some people. The name was likely derived from the placename rag ko (Spanish Arauco), meaning "clayey water".[4][5] The Quechua word awqa, meaning "rebel, enemy", is probably not the root of araucano.[4]

It's thought that the Mapuche (Moluche, Huilliche, Picunche, etc) called themselves "Reche" during the Spanish conquest due to their supposed pure native blood, "Re" meaning pure and "Che" meaning people[6]

The name "Mapuche" is used both to refer collectively to the Picunche (people of the north), Huilliche (people of the south) and Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía, or at other times, exclusively to the Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía. However, Mapuche is a relatively recent endonym meaning "People of the Land", is preferred to be used when referring to the "Mapuche" people after the Arauco War [7]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Mapuche
العربية: مابوتشي
Avañe'ẽ: Mapuche
azərbaycanca: Araukanlar
Bân-lâm-gú: Mapuche
беларуская: Мапучэ
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Мапучы
български: Мапуче
Boarisch: Mapuche
català: Maputxes
čeština: Mapučové
Cymraeg: Mapuche
dansk: Mapuche
Deutsch: Mapuche
Ελληνικά: Μαπούτσε
español: Pueblo mapuche
Esperanto: Mapuĉoj
euskara: Maputxe
فارسی: ماپوچه
français: Mapuches
galego: Pobo mapuche
한국어: 마푸체 족
hrvatski: Mapuche
Bahasa Indonesia: Mapuche
italiano: Mapuche
עברית: מפוצ'ה
Basa Jawa: Wong Mapuche
ქართული: მაპუჩე
қазақша: Араукандар
latviešu: Mapuči
lietuvių: Mapučiai
მარგალური: მაპუჩე
Bahasa Melayu: Mapuche
Nederlands: Mapuche
日本語: マプチェ族
Nordfriisk: Mapuche
norsk: Mapuche
norsk nynorsk: Mapuche
polski: Mapuche
português: Mapuches
Runa Simi: Mapuchi
русский: Арауканы
Scots: Mapuche
slovenčina: Mapuče
slovenščina: Mapuči
српски / srpski: Арауканци
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Mapuche
suomi: Mapuchet
svenska: Mapuche
Türkçe: Mapuçeler
українська: Мапуче
中文: 马普切人