Andean Spanish

Learn about one of the largest classifications of Spanish, heavily influenced by the Quechua language.

Map of America (1800-1899) by Tomás LópezOriginal Source: National Library of Spain

South America

When the Spanish arrived in the Americas at the end of the 15th century, they discovered an array of indigenous settlements and cultures very different from one another. The Spanish advances to the south took place mainly through the Andean region and along the Atlantic coast.

View of the city of Lima (1780) by Fernando BrambillaOriginal Source: National Library of Spain

The earliest settlements were founded during the first half of the 16th century. In 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was established, and later, in the early 17th century, the Viceroyalties of Nueva Granada and Río de la Plata broke away from it.

Cul Amer South Peru Engs Picart IncasLIFE Photo Collection

Many of the indigenous groups of South America were concentrated in the regions of the Viceroyalties of Peru and Nueva Granada. Here, Castilian Spanish came into contact with indigenous tongues including Quechua, Aymara, and Guaraní.

Quechua Grammar (1607) by Diego González HolguinFundación Antonio de Nebrija

This early coexistence gave rise to a series of linguistic transferences, which are not only evident in terms of the influence of Spanish on the indigenous tongues, but also in the vocabulary incorporated the other way around.

Indigenous people of the Andean region (2020) by Mauricio ThomsenFundación Antonio de Nebrija

Andean Spanish

It is one of the largest regional dialects of Spanish, spoken in the central Andes, from Colombia to Bolivia and northern Chile, with influences from both Castilian Spanish and indigenous languages such as Quechua and Aymara.

United States. Ne.. Administrative divisions. (1796) by Aaron ArrowsmithOriginal Source: National Library of Spain

Although this delimitation is based on zones that are as diverse as they are connected, they hinge on indigenous tongues and their influence on the development of Spanish in these regions. Even so, it is also worth considering the current territorial divisions.

Machu Picchu (2020) by Alex AzabacheFundación Antonio de Nebrija


From the earliest Spanish presence, Peru occupied a privileged position thanks to its amazing mineral resources. As the seat of one the principal indigenous civilizations, the Inca Empire, it was also the backdrop to an intense clash of languages.

Indigenous woman from Peru (2020) by Julia VolkFundación Antonio de Nebrija

The Inca Empire extended from southern Colombia down to central Chile and north-western Argentina. The contact between Spanish and Quechua spawned many words used in Peruvian Spanish. Choclo (corn), chupe (a type of stew), and chompa (sweater) are just some examples.

Bolivian woman (2020) by Carlos RiberaFundación Antonio de Nebrija


Bolivia is a country with a huge variety of Spanish dialects, as well as a number of significant indigenous communities. The Spanish in this region has been heavily influenced by Quechua and Aymara, and has similarities with that spoken in neighboring Paraguay.

Group of Bolivians (2020) by Carlos RiberaFundación Antonio de Nebrija

As in other Andean regions, the term cholo is used to describe a person of mestizo origin who speaks Spanish and identifies with the urban, Spanish-speaking Bolivia. Around 83% of the population are native Spanish speakers.

Group of people from Ecuador (2020) by Edu CarbonettiFundación Antonio de Nebrija


The Spanish spoken in this small nation varies widely between regions and social classes. Some communities have developed a hybrid language between Quechua and Spanish known as a middle language. Some of the words inherited from Quechua include chimbo (curse) and gringo (white foreigner).

Credits: Story

With information from the Atlas of the Spanish Language in the World (Atlas de la Lengua Española en el Mundo) by Francisco Moreno, and Latin American Spanish (El Español de América) by John M. Lipski

Curator: Rodrigo Díaz

Credits: All media
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