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List of Indigenous peoples

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There is no generally accepted definition of Indigenous peoples,[a][1][2][3] although in the 21st century the focus has been on self-identification, cultural difference from other groups in a state, a special relationship with their traditional territory, and an experience of subjugation and discrimination under a dominant cultural model.[4]

Estimates of the population of Indigenous peoples range from 250 million to 600 million.[5] There are some 5,000 distinct Indigenous peoples spread across every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world except Antarctica.[6][7] Most Indigenous peoples are in a minority in the state or traditional territory they inhabit and have experienced domination by other groups, especially non-Indigenous peoples.[8][9] Although many Indigenous peoples have experienced colonization by settlers from European nations,[10] Indigenous identity is not determined by Western colonization.[4]

The rights of Indigenous peoples are outlined in national legislation, treaties and international law. The 1989 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples protects Indigenous peoples from discrimination and specifies their rights to development, customary laws, lands, territories and resources, employment, education and health.[11] In 2007, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including their rights to self-determination and to protect their cultures, identities, languages, ceremonies, and access to employment, health, education and natural resources.[12]

Indigenous peoples continue to face threats to their sovereignty, economic well-being, languages, cultural heritage, and access to the resources on which their cultures depend.[13] In the 21st century, Indigenous groups and advocates for Indigenous peoples have highlighted numerous apparent violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples.


Indigenous communities, peoples, and nations are those which have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, and may consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.[14]

This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present of one or more of the following factors:

  • Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them
  • Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands
  • Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership in an Indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.)
  • Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal language)
  • Residence in certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world
  • Other relevant factors.
  • On an individual basis, an Indigenous person is one who belongs to these Indigenous populations through self-identification as Indigenous (group consciousness) and is recognized and accepted by these populations as one of its members (acceptance by the group). This preserves for these communities the sovereign right and power to decide who belongs to them, without external interference.[15]


Hadza people, who are indigenous to the African Great Lakes
A Maasai traditional dance
Baka pygmy dancers in the East Province of Cameroon
Batwa Pygmy with traditional bow and arrow
Somali women in traditional headresses
Tigrayan women in traditional attire
Wolayta chief
Berta people playing trumpets during a wedding ceremony
Nilotic men in Kapoeta, South Sudan
19th century Zulu man wearing a warrior's garb
Sotho women wearing the traditional Seana Marena blanket
Makua mother and child
Damara man wearing the ǃgūb, a traditional attire

African Great Lakes[edit]

Central Africa[edit]

Horn of Africa[edit]


Southern Africa[edit]

West Africa[edit]

A Dogon hunter with a flintlock musket, 2010.
Serer cultural vigil in Senegal.

North Africa[edit]

Shilha Berbers in Morocco
Sanhaja Berber traditional dancers

West and Central Asia[edit]

West Asia[edit]

Marsh Arabs/Ma'dan poling a mashoof in the Mesopotamian Marshes
An Assyrian woman wearing traditional clothing in Zakho
Samaritans on Mount Gerizim
Soqotri men
  • There are competing claims that Palestinian Arabs and Jews are indigenous to historic Palestine/the Land of Israel.[85][86][87] The argument entered the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in the 1990s, with Palestinians claiming Indigenous status as a pre-existing population displaced by Jewish settlement, and currently constituting a minority in the State of Israel.[88] Israeli Jews have in turn claimed indigeneity based on historic ties to the region and disputed the authenticity of Palestinian claims.[89][90] In 2007, the Negev Bedouin were officially "recognized as an indigenous people of Israel" by the United Nations.[91] This has been criticized both by scholars associated with the Israeli state, who dispute the Bedouin's claim to indigeneity,[92] and those who argue that recognising just one group of Palestinians as Indigenous risks undermining others' claims and "fetishising" nomadic cultures.[93]
Armenian women in Diyarbakır
Kurds wearing traditional clothing
Yazidi festival at Lalish
Baloch of Nimruz Province, Afghanistan


Traditional Adyghe clothing.

Central Asia[edit]

Pamiri people of Tajikistan

South Asia[edit]

Kalash in traditional dress
Kodava men in traditional attire, India
An Indigenous Assamese woman of Assam
Veddha Chief Uruwarige Wannila Aththo, leader of the Indigenous people of Sri Lanka

Indian subcontinent[edit]

Andaman and Nicobar Islands[edit]

Northeast Asia[edit]

Miao (Hmong) girls in China
Bunun dancer


Western China[edit]

North China[edit]

South China[edit]






Representation of a Chukchi family by Louis Choris (1816)
Buryat shaman of Olkhon, Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia.
Nenets child

Over 40 distinct peoples, each with their own language and culture in the Asiatic part of Russia (Siberia/North Asia).

Southeast Asia[edit]

A Wa woman carrying her child

Mainland Southeast Asia (Indochinese Peninsula)[edit]

S'gaw Karen girls of Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand
Akha girl in Laos
Yi/Nuosu women
A Tai Dam lady

Maritime Southeast Asia (Malay Archipelago)[edit]

A Murut man (a member of one of the Dayak ethnicities) in Monsopiad Cultural Village, Kg. Kuai Kandazon, Penampang, Sabah, Borneo Island
Ati woman, the Philippines, 2007[101] The Negritos were the earliest inhabitants of Southeast Asia.[102]


Irish Travellers in Cork

Some sources describe the Sámi as the only recognized indigenous peoples in Europe,[104][105][106] with others describing them as the only indigenous people in the European Union.[107][108][109][110] Other groups, particularly in Central, Western and Southern Europe, that might be considered to fit the description of indigenous peoples in the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, such as the Sorbs, are generally categorized as national minorities instead.[111]

Northern Europe[edit]

Eastern Europe[edit]

Western Europe[edit]


The Americas consist of the supercontinent comprising North and South America, and associated islands.

List of peoples by geographical and ethnolinguistic grouping:

North America[edit]

North America includes all of the continent and islands east of the Bering Strait and north of the Isthmus of Panama; it includes Greenland, Canada, United States, Mexico, Central American and Caribbean countries. However a distinction can be made between a broader North America and a narrower Northern America and Middle America due to ethnic and cultural characteristics.


Two Inuit women in traditional amauti (packing parkas)


Pacific Northwest Coast[edit]

Northwest Plateau-Great Basin-California[edit]

Northwest Plateau[edit]
Great Basin[edit]

Great Plains[edit]

Eastern Woodlands[edit]

Northeastern Woodlands[edit]
Southeastern Woodlands[edit]



Tzeltal dancers waiting to perform, San Cristobal
Mayan family from Yucatán
Amuzgos in traditional dress
Mazatec girls performing a dance in Huautla de Jimenez
Huichol woman and child

Central America[edit]

Central America is generally defined as a subregion in North America located between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Darién Gap.

Mam people


Isthmo-Colombian Area[edit]

A Kuna woman in traditional dress
Umalali featuring the Garifuna Collective on the Peace Corps World Stage at Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2011

South America[edit]

Emberá women
Urarina shaman, 1988
Bororo-Boe man from Mato Grosso at Brazil's Indigenous Games, 2007
Pai Tavytera people in Amambay Department, Paraguay, 2012
Quechua woman and child in the Sacred Valley, Peru

South America generally includes all of the continent and islands south of the Isthmus of Panama.

Isthmo-Colombian Area[edit]



Eastern Highlands (Brazilian Highlands)[edit]


Central Andes[edit]

Southern Cone[edit]



Portrait of the Kali'na exhibited at the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris in 1892

The West Indies, or the Caribbean, generally includes the island chains of the Caribbean Sea, namely the Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles, and the Lesser Antilles.


Oceania includes most islands of the Pacific Ocean, New Guinea, New Zealand and the continent of Australia.

List of peoples by geographical and ethnolinguistic grouping:


Aboriginal farmers in Victoria, Australia, 1858

Indigenous Australians include Aboriginal Australians on the mainland and Tiwi Islands as well as Torres Strait Islander peoples from the Torres Strait Islands.

Western Desert[edit]




Fitzmaurice Basin[edit]

Arnhem Land[edit]

Top End[edit]

Gulf Country[edit]

Cape York[edit]

West Cape[edit]
East Cape[edit]

Daintree Rainforest[edit]

Lake Eyre Basin[edit]

Spencer Gulf[edit]

Murray-Darling Basin[edit]




Torres Strait Islands[edit]



Melanesia generally includes New Guinea and other (far-)western Pacific islands from the Arafura Sea out to Fiji. The region is mostly inhabited by the Melanesian peoples.


Micronesia generally includes the various small island chains of the western and central Pacific. The region is mostly inhabited by the Micronesian peoples.


Samoan family

Polynesia includes New Zealand and the islands of Oceania, and has various Indigenous populations.[118]


Polynesian outliers[edit]


Circumpolar peoples is an umbrella term for the various Indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

List of peoples by ethnolinguistic grouping:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Also known as First peoples, First nations, Aboriginal peoples, Native peoples, Indigenous Natives, or Autochthonous peoples. Since 2020, most style guides have recommend capitalization of "Indigenous" when referring to specific Indigenous peoples as ethnic groups, nations, and the citizens or members of these groups.[121][122][123][124][125]
  2. ^ The Indigenous people of Vanuatu make up more than 95 percent of a country of just under a quarter of a million people (who speak more than 111 different languages), recognized by the United Nations as simultaneously having Least Developed status and having the world’s greatest cultural and linguistic diversity.[120]


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  10. ^ Miller, Robert J.; Ruru, Jacinta; Behrendt, Larissa; Lindberg, Tracey (2010). Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies. OUP Oxford. pp. 9–13. ISBN 978-0-19-957981-5.
  11. ^ UNHR Fact Sheet No. 9 2013, p. 9.
  12. ^ Bodley 2008, p. 2.
  13. ^ UNHR Fact Sheet No. 9 2013, p. 4.
  14. ^ Jose R. Martinez Cobo
  15. ^ Definition of indigenous peoples
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