Ngöbe–Buglé people

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The Ngöbe–Buglé are a union of two indigenous peoples of western Panama, the Guaymí (Ngöbe) and the Bokota (Buglé). They live in the highlands of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí Province and on the arid plains of Veraguas, and have a joint reservation, the Ngöbe–Buglé Comarca (Ngobeland).


The Ngöbe–Buglé Comarca (Ngobeland) (territory) was established on March 7, 1997 with Law 10. Some of the most important villages in the Comarca are: Culantro, Cascabel, Mununi, Piedra Roja, and Rio Luis.

According to the national census in 2000, there are a total of 110,080 Ngäbe and Buglé in Panama, constituting 63.6% of the national Indigenous population. Most of these are Guaymí.


Women wear long gowns decorated with symmetric bands of colorful wedges while men wear western clothing. However, during the balseria ceremonies, where the strongest man wins, they will dress themselves with exotic bird feathers and paint their faces with geometric shapes, usually in black, white and red. Chaquiras, bead necklaces depicting geometric designs and lines in bold colors, are one of their most famous accessories.

They live in huts, usually near rivers. The Ngöbe–Buglé fish, hunt and also raise dogs, cattle, chickens and pigs. Traditionally, the Ngäbe–Buglé punish adultery severely and celebrate ceremonies like the aguito, chicherias and clarias.

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