About 180km southwest of Oruro, the remote village of Chipaya is home to the Chipayas, an ethnic group culturally and linguistically distinct from both the Aymara and Quechua. Now confined to a small territory in this desolate region, the Chipayas are thought to have descended from the Urus. Driven into the unforgiving environment of this remote corner of the Altiplano over several centuries under population pressure from the Aymara, the Chipayas eke out a marginal living by growing quinoa, fishing and catching aquatic birds. Despite their desperate poverty, the Chipayas have maintained their unique language, culture and religious beliefs, and many of the village’s buildings are still distinctive circular huts with doors made from cactus and roofs thatched with aquatic reeds.

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