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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2019

ROME, Aug 7 2019 (IPS) - There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to others yet are being forced to give up their ways of life.

In Latin America, for example, 40% of all indigenous peoples now live in urban areas – they account for 80% of those populations in some countries. Globally, they represent 5% of the world’s population, yet account for 15% of all of those in poverty.

Indigenous people speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s 7000 languages. These languages are extensive and complex systems of knowledge that are central to their identity, their cultures, worldviews and expressions of self-determination.

Tragically, many indigenous languages are under threat, as we lose one of these languages every two weeks. According to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 230 languages went extinct between 1950 and 2010. Today, a third of the world’s languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers left.

The 9th of August commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This year’s theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous languages around the world, aiming to highlight the critical need to revitalize, preserve and promote indigenous languages to safeguard the life of indigenous cultures for future generations.

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