Tribes have existed for thousands of years. To this day, some of those tribe remain isolated and refuse or resist any contact with our modern society. These tribes are completely self-sufficient; depending on hunting and cultivating crops for survival. They have also maintained their traditions and culture over the years. The following ten items are the names of the top 10 isolated tribes that remain untouched by civilization.
1. The Huaorani Tribe, Peru
The Huaorani or Waodani tribe is a tribe located in The Amazonian region of Ecuador, Peru. The first discovery of the tribe happened in the late 1940s by the employees of the oil company ‘Shell’ in the Amazon rainforest. The unwelcomed visitors were quick to abandon the area after being driven out by the tribe who were described as being ferocious and savages.
The second contact with the isolated tribe was by five missionaries in the year 1956. Sadly, the five of them were brutally speared to death by the Huaorani tribe. The sister of one of the missionaries that were killed was able to communicate with them after learning their language and became a peaceful contact with them.
The Huaorani tribe has their language, called Wuao, which isn’t related to any other spoken language. For food, they mainly depend on hunting meat and fish instead of cultivating plants. Although many Huaorani members now have moved to oil frontier towns near them and speak Spanish, there is a large number of them that resist any connection to our modern society.
2. Jarawa Tribe of Andaman Islands, India
The Jarawas tribe are inhabitants of the Andaman Islands located in India. They are considered to be one of the oldest aboriginal tribes with a population of 250 to 400 members. It’s believed that they have been isolated for 55,000 years, utterly untouched by society. They are a self-sufficient tribe and count on hunting turtles and fish and cultivate fruits and vegetables for food.
The first time they came in contact with the outside world was in 1997. Before that, this tribesmen were extremely hostile with trespassers and attacked them with bows and arrows. Today they face many problems, and one of the most significant issues that could wipe out the tribe is having little to no immunity to diseases. However, their main threat is the Andaman Trunk Road which leads to the exploitation of their land for things like poaching. Tourists are also exploiting the women of the tribe.
3. The Himarima Tribe, Brazil
The Himarima tribe is a tribe that, still to this day, we don’t know much about. They’re native to Brazil and have remained uncontacted by civilization ever since their existence. Nobody knew of their existence until the year 1986. They live along the Piranhas River in northeastern Brazil, and they speak an unknown language.
The population was estimated to be more than 1,000 members in 1943. The first time they were in contact with people was when ten members, including women and children from the tribe, came looking for help from people near the river. The people whom they sought help from ended up killing them and kept the children as slaves. To this day, no one knows or has heard from the Himarima tribe again.
4. The Apiaka Tribe, Brazil
The Apiaka tribe is a warrior tribe native to Brazil. The earliest record of their existence was dated back to the 19th century. Initially, the tribe consisted of 16,000 individuals, but in 2009, there were only around 192 individuals after many were killed and their numbers declined throughout history. They had a strong fighting culture, and they fought other tribes for vengeance. They also practiced cannibalism on their prisoners.
5. The Ayoreo Tribe, Gran Chaco
The Ayoreo are indigenous uncontacted people native to the Gran Chaco, which is a natural region divided between eastern Bolivia and western Paraguay. The estimated number of their population is 5,000; 3,000 of them live in Bolivia and the rest in Paraguay. They are divided into smaller sub-groups, and the most isolated and uncontacted sub-group is the Totobiegosode.
The tribe was first contacted in 1720 by the Jesuits, a society of religious people originating from Spain, who tried to convert people into Catholicism. After the mission was aborted, the tribe was left alone again in isolation until the 1900s.
The Totobiegosode tend to live in small communities, and they depend on hunting wild pigs for food. However, in the rainy season, they depend on crops such as corn, beans, and squash.
Although there are some Ayoreo people in contact with civilization, there remains about a 100 uncontacted Ayoreo members divided into 6 to 7 groups. These people face many threats today, including deforestation and diseases.
6. The Yanomami Tribe, Amazon rainforest
The Yanomami people are indigenous people that live in the Amazon rainforest between Venezuela and Brazil. They’re divided into four sub-groups, and each sub-group speaks their own language. Those four sub-groups are Sanema, Ninam, Yanomam, and lastly Yanomamo.
The Yanomami people are known for their excellent hunting and fishing skills. The women of the tribe take care of the cultivation, and the men do the heavy work. The majority of them live deep within the forest, and the rest live alongside the rivers.
Because they remained uncontacted for a very long time, they can retain their identity unlike other tribes in the Amazon. They didn’t have any contact with the outside world until 1980. After discovering gold mines on the Yanomami land, miners fled to the area illegally, bringing diseases and massacres to the tribe. Ever since the tribe has been exposed to violence and tension.
7. The Surma Tribe, Ethiopia
The Surma tribe are native to the southeast of Ethiopia. The tribe is composed of three types; Suri, Me’en and Mursi. Their population is estimated to be around 186,000 individuals. The members of the tribe that are called the Mursi people, one of their most known feature is the lip disks. At first, they used the lip disks to disfigure themselves so that the Arab slave traders wouldn’t enslave them. Over the years, the lips disks became more of a tradition and a sign of beauty, which is why it remained in their culture to this day. The women have their lower teeth removed at the age of puberty, and after they get their lips pierced, they get it stretched increasingly until they reach the desired size. Some of the women wear disks with the diameter size up to 30 cm. Also, they perform body scarification using razor blades. The men, as well, scar their bodies after killing an enemy as a symbol to show their pride.
The young warriors of the tribe spend a significant amount of time away from home with their herds. During this time, they eat a mixture of milk and blood from a cow’s vein. Every male individual is judged by the number of cattle they own, and they are willing to risk their lives to protect their herd. They’re not allowed to get married until they own at least 60 cows which are given to the woman’s family after marriage.
8. The Nukak Maku Tribe, Republic of Colombia
With a population of approximately 450-550 members, the Nukak people are native to the Republic of Colombia. They live between the Guaviare and Inirida rivers within the tropical forest in southeast Colombia. However, they are always on the move, never settling in the same place for much time. They have great hunters and use darts poisoned with curare manyi; a poison made from plants.
The tribe had made efforts to stay away from all contact until the year 1988 when a number of them visited a town called Calamar. The consequences of the contact turned out to be catastrophic as it brought to the tribe diseases like Malaria and measles that caused the death of 50% of them. The tribe is currently at risk of extinction after they were driven out of their territory due to the invasion of their land.
9. The Zo’e Tribe, Brazil
The Zo’e tribe are one of the most isolated and smallest tribes that are native to Brazil. Their population is estimated to be 256 members that are settled on the Cuminapanema River in the Amazon rainforest.
One of the main characteristics of the tribe is their poturu; which is a wooden plug piercing on their bottom lips. One of their most sacred ceremonies for the children (girls at the age of seven and boys at the age of nine years old) is the piercing of the lower lip. The plugs are made out of a sharp bone from a spider monkey’s leg. The plug increases in size as the children age until they reach adulthood.
The members of the tribe wear no clothes except during ceremonies. They practice polygamy and polyandry. There are no leaders in the tribe, and everyone is considered equal in their society. The first contact with the Zo’e was in the 1940s, but they weren’t disturbed by them. Until 1975, a plane flying over the rainforest spotted the tribe and decided to throw goods out of the plane, but it’s reported that the Zo’e people stomped on the goods and buried them later. The first contact between the people of Zo’e and some missionaries brought them illnesses that they weren’t immune to and about one-quarter of their population died.
Today, the tribe of Zo’e remains free from invasion and in isolation from civilization.
10. The Sentinelese Tribe, India
At the top of our list, we have the Sentinelese Tribe. The first time the Sentinelese tribe were discovered and seen was in 2004 after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. A member of the tribe was photographed firing an arrow at a helicopter flying over the North Sentinel Island of India. Moreover, over the years, they have continued resisting any contact with the outside world and are hostile towards all trespassers. For instance, in 2006, two fishermen were killed by the tribe after their boat drifted to the shore of the island.
The estimation of the number of the population is around 40 individuals and all the information gathered about them are from viewing them from a safe distance. We’re not even sure what the tribe names themselves. It’s reported that they might have lived on the island for 60,000 years and originated from Africa.