Nara people

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This article is about the ethnic group that lives in Eritrea. For the Manchu clan, see Clan Nara. For people from Nara, see Nara (disambiguation).
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Islam, Christianity, traditional
Related ethnic groups
Kunama, other Nilotic peoples

The Nara are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting Eritrea.


According to the Eritrean government, the Nara are descendants of the first Nilo-Saharan settlers in Eritrea, who had migrated from the Upper Nile area and intermarried with local Pygmy populations.[2]

Today, the Nara number around 108,000 individuals.[1] They are typically agrarian and have settled primarily along the border with Sudan.[3]

The Nara population is divided into four subtribes: the Higir, Mogareb, Koyta and Santora.[1] They traditionally adhered to animist beliefs, but most have since adopted Islam and a minority also follow Christianity.[4]

The Nara ethnonym means "Sky Heaven".[4] They also used to call themselves the Barya.[5]


The Nara people speak the Nara language. It belongs to the Nilo-Saharan family, and is closely related to Kunama.[1]

The language is also known as Nara-Bana, meaning "Nara-Talk".[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Nara". Ethnologue. Retrieved 20 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "The people of Eritrea". Ministry of Information, Eritrea. Retrieved 20 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Killion, Tom (1998). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. ISBN 0-8108-3437-5. 
  4. ^ a b c "Eritrea: Nara People's History". Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  5. ^ Cavalli-Sforza, L. Luca; Menozzi, Paolo; and Piazza Alberto The History and Geography of Human Genes Princeton, New Jersey: 1994 Princeton University Press "Ethiopians, Some of Their Neighbors, and North Africans" Page 173