Aymara (Īmäräˈ) [key], Native South Americans inhabiting the Lake Titicaca basin in Peru and Bolivia. The originators of the great culture represented by the ruins of Tiahuanaco were very likely Aymara speakers. Although subjugated by the Inca in the 15th cent. after a long struggle, the Aymara continue to dominate the region, with a population of over 2 million in the mid-1990s. The Aymara languages make up a separate unit; they are spoken in Peru and Bolivia in the Titicaca region. The Aymara, conquered (1538) by Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro, retained their pastoral and agricultural culture. In general, social organization was, and still is, based on the patrilineal family unit. Contemporary Aymara and the related Quechua peasant culture is a blend of aboriginal, Spanish colonial, and modern elements.
See H. Osborne, Indians of the Andes, Aymaras and Quechuas (1952); J. Steward, ed., Handbook of South American Indians, Vol. II (1963); H. and J.-M. Buechler, The Bolivian Aymara (1971); A. L. Kolata, Valley of the Spirits (1996).