The Mapuche are the indigenous people living in Chile and Argentina. The language of the Mapuche people is Mapudungun and in that language the word Mapuche means "people of the earth."
Mapuche territory traditionally extended from the Aconagua Valley in the north of Chile, all the way down to Chiloe Island in the south and over to the Argentine Patagonia in the east. Before the arrival of Spanish conquerors, the Mapuche lived by fishing and hunting small animals.
In Chile, the Mapuche constitute about 10 percent (more than 1 million people) of the total Chilean population. Half of that population lives in the south of Chile, from the river Bio Bio to Chiloe Island. The other half are found in and around Santiago de Chile.
Approximately 300,000 Mapuche live in Argentina.
The Mapuche call themselves by different names according to the region in which they live. For example, the Picunche live in the north, the Huilliche live in the south, the Lafkenche are in the west, the Moluche live in the center, the Nagche are the valley people and the Pehuenches live in the mountains. For more information, please visit the Mapuche International Link website which contains a wealth of information about the current state of affairs among the Mapuche people in Chile and Argentina. This site is maintained by Reynaldo Mariqueo, Count of Lul-lul Mawidha and is available in English, German, French and Spanish.