Technology, gadgets, computers, smartphones. This is what drives the modern society today. For those of us living in the modern global world, a tribal lifestyle is incredibly foreign and sounds damn right weird. However, a surprising number of people still live traditional lifestyles, completely cut off from modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, the Internet and electricity; but that doesn’t mean they suffer or that they hate their lives. Indigenous peoples who remain in isolation exist for a variety of reasons: some have voluntarily chosen to forsake the modern world, some are left alone for fear that they lack immunities to diseases that foreign people might bring with them, and some activists fear that contacting these people would be infringing on their right to privacy and isolation. No matter the reason or explanation, these are the 12 most isolated tribes around the world.
12. Mashco-Piro – Peru
There are 13 uncontacted tribes living in Peru, which is why 5 reserves intended for tribal use exist in the Peruvian Amazon. The Mashco-Piro have survived extreme attacks and warfare in their native areas; many of them were murdered during the rubber boom, dynamite was used against them by the International Petroleum Company, and they currently face violence from those seeking the profits of Mahogany wood. Things don’t look god as a large road will pass through their reserve very soon.
11. Piaroa – Venezuela
The Piaroa people live in perfect harmony and leadership is minimal due to the traditions of sharing, individuality and equality. Their interactions with neighboring tribes, which are often spurred by arguments over the clay found naturally in the region, tend to be violent and aggressive. Approximately 14,000 Piaroa currently reside in Venezuela’s Orinoco Basin, and the remainder can be found in Colombian reservations or near Colombia’s Orinoco River.
10. Wayampi – French Guiana
The Wayampi exist in both French Guiana and Brazil. Missionaries have been in contact with them since the 18th century, and two Wayampi tribes who live in complete isolation still exist. They oppose even the other Wayampi tribes in the area. Fishing and hunting are important for the Wayampi, as well as the cultivation of produce – bananas, yams and sweet potatoes. There are about 1,600 Wayampi that practice a tribal lifestyle.
9. Totobiegosode – Paraguay
The Totobiesgosode are the most isolated subgroup of the ethnic group Ayoreo in Paraguay, unique in that they are the only South American people living outside of the Amazon that remain un-contacted. The Ayoreo practice live burials because they shun dying above ground, so when they feel close to death they request to be buried alive. Like many tribes, the Ayoreo’s way of life is threatened.
8. Ruc – Vietnam
There are 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, each with its own unique culture. The Ruc people reside in Central Vietnam, although the government has made several attempts to relocate them. They believe that many non-sentient objects, like trees, rivers and animals, possess a spirit or life force. The Ruc speak the Chut language, of which there are approximately 1,300 native speakers.
7. Waorani – Ecuador
The 4,000 Waodani of Ecuador have a strong belief in animism. This belief does nothing to halt a violent lifestyle, however: roughly 60% of the Waodani die from murder. They have been forced to undergo lifestyle changes in the past 40 years, altering from hunting and gathering to settlements located in the forest.
6. Carabayo – Colombia
The Carabayo of Colombia reside near the River Pure in the Colombian Amazon. The Carabayo are not entirely without contact to the outside world: like many tribes, they have dealt with violent intrusions into their lifestyle. These intrusions have had a twofold effect: the Colombian government has imposed protection for the Carabayo, while the Carabayo themselves have become progressively more secluded and hostile towards strangers – no surprise there.
5. Yanomami – Venezuela
The Yanomami of Venezuela have been contacted and even studied in the past; however, many of them remain in isolation. Some interesting facts about this tribe include the marrying of girls once they begin menstruating at the ages of 10-12, the practice of both polyandry and polygyny, frequent violence, the consumption of cremated bones, and the use of hallucinogens for shamanistic healing rituals. The Yanomami consist of 35,000 tribe members.
4. Awa – Brazil
The Awa have been endangered for a while now. During the 1800s, they were forced to embrace an itinerant lifestyle, after Europeans repeatedly threatened their permanent communities. In the 1980s, they were mostly relocated to government settlements, but they weren’t granted government protection until 2003. Unfortunately, today there are roughly 350 Awa in existence, 100 of which live in complete isolation.
3. Toromona – Bolivia
The Toromona remain un-contacted and the exact location of their settlement is unknown. They reside in northwest Bolivia; the government has done its best to respect the Toromona’s desire for privacy and isolation by allocating a portion of Madidi National Park exclusively to them, in 2006. Aside from that, no one knows more about them.
2. Jarawa – India
The Jarawa people live on the Andaman Islands, an archipelago that belongs mostly to India. Extremely isolated, the population of Jarawa people has steadily decreased. The Andaman Trunk Road was built near their settlement, which has resulted in outbreaks of the Measles on two separate occasions.
1. Sentinelese – India
The Sentinelese people also exist on the Andaman Islands, and maintain a hunter-gatherer society. Considered to be the most isolated tribe on Earth, they number anywhere from 40 – 500. Not much is known about the Sentinelese, their lifestyle allegedly includes community mating rituals and is devoid of either agriculture or fire. They possess rudimentary weapons like javelins and bows and have proven to lack hesitation in using them against what they perceive to be invaders.