Who Owns the Land in Latin America?

Formal Recognition of Community-Based Land Rights in Latin America

Author: Rights and Resources Initiative

Date: November 17, 2015

This brief summarizes findings on community ownership and control of lands in 13 countries in Latin America. These countries were included in RRI’s global baseline of formally recognized indigenous and community land rights.

  • Key Findings
  • Related Materials

Key Findings

  • In the 13 Latin American countries studied, Indigenous Peoples and local communities own or control 23 percent of land area, compared with 18 percent globally.
  • Combined, Brazil and Mexico account for 67 percent of all land recognized and owned by Indigenous Peoples in Latin America, with Brazil contributing 44 percent and Mexico contributing 23 percent.
  • In the nine South American countries studied, local communities and Indigenous Peoples own or control 20 percent of land area.
  • Mexico, where Indigenous Peoples and communities own 52 percent of the country’s land area, drives the results in the four Mesoamerican countries studied. When the Mesoamerican results are assessed without Mexico, only 1.7 percent of land is owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples or local communities.

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