In terms of language families, Brazil is one of the most diverse language areas in the world. There are estimated to be 170 to 180 languages grouped into 24 distinct language families and 11 linguistic isolates (languages that are unrelated to other languages).1 Recent estimates for the total number of speakers of indigenous languages vary from 600,000 to 734,000. The overall population has been growing in recent years, but half of the groups have a population of less than 500, and several of them are dangerously close to extinction.2


Map of Brazilian languages


Discussions, research, catalog of South American languages (Portuguese)

The language families of Brazil (Portuguese)

The languages of Brazil

Index to an excellent compilation of the languages of Brazil


The collections of works by Aryon Dall’Igna Rodrigues, the foremost Brazilian linguist, specializing in Tupi language families (Portuguese)

The indigenous language program of UNB (Portuguese)

The electronic Brazilian linguistic periodical ReVEL, with free downloads to over 200 articles (Portuguese)


1 Rodrigues, Aryon Dall’Igna. 1986. Línguas Brasileiras: para um conhecimento das línguas indígenas. São Paulo: Edições Loyola.

2 Ricardo, Beto and Fany Ricardo, eds. 2006. Povos indígenas no Brasil: 2001-2005. São Paulo: Instituto Socioambiental, p. 17.