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a group of Indian tribes in South America that are related by language. The Arawakan languages constitute one of the largest linguistic groups in South America. The name is derived from one of the tribes with which the Europeans met soon after conquest. At that time the Arawaks lived from the Chaco River and the sources of the Xingu River to the islands of the West Indies and from the mouth of the Amazon River to the eastern slopes of the Andes. Toward the end of the 15th century the Carib tribes forced the Arawaks out of the northeastern section of the mainland and from the islands of the Lesser Antilles. The Arawaks on the islands of the Greater Antilles were exterminated by the Spaniards. At the present time they live mainly in western Venezuela, in the eastern regions of Colombia and Peru bordering Brazil, in western Brazil, and along the coast of Guiana. Their population has not been exactly determined. Most Arawaks are settled agriculturalists. In the almost inaccessible forest regions the Arawaks have preserved their clan structure and the religious ideas associated with a belief in spirits.
REFERENCESNarody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
E. V. ZIBERT