The different ways that people live on this earth has interested researchers and travellers since we were able to explore the seas, oceans and lands that form it. From strict traditions, artistic expression, tight-knit communities and undisturbed villages, there are tribes around the world that remain separate from the state, growing their own resources, living off of the land and upholding strong beliefs in spirits, the afterlife and good and evil forces. Take a look with us at some of the most detached communities in the world, and discover how they continue their traditions despite outside threats.
An estimated one million Maasai people live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, but numbers based on the national census aren’t considered reliable as some often purposefully miscount. The Maasai region includes the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, which are popular areas with tourists for their conservation and wildlife viewing. Western ideas are said to have affected traditional tribal leadership and the herding of livestock through the introduction of formal schooling; all of this is considered to be forcing the Maasai people out.
The indigenous people of Goroka live in the small highland villages of Papua New Guinea, but due to intertribal warfare and the intimidating landscape, each one is isolated from the next and individual languages have developed with distinction. As a result, residents live simply but fully, with good food, tight-knit families and a respect for the natural wonders of the world. Make-up and decoration are used to impress the enemy, often seen at the cultural Goroka Show where travellers can witness tribal music, dancing, showing-off and rituals.
The Himba people, a nomadic group of herders from the Kaokoland area of Namibia, live a life of simplicity with basic necessities. Wearing only a loincloth around their waist, they rub their bodies with red ochre to protect their skin from the sun, giving it a rich red colour, and the women decorate their bodies with intricate hairstyles and jewellery. Despite the threat of war and drought in the 1980s, of which 90% of their cattle suffered, the Himba people are considered to be extremely resilient, rebuilding their herds, working alongside international activists and taking control of the wildlife and tourism on their land.
Originally from Mongolia, Akha people have migrated to China, Thailand and Vietnam due to civil unrest. They have strong beliefs in the spirit world, warding off evil with wooden carvings outside their houses and on the borders of their villages. From their own travel into more populated areas and an increase of tourism, it’s only the oldest generation that wear the traditional clothes on a daily basis, while youths will wear them for special occasions. The poorest of the Akha have taken to using their origins to make money in tourism, including selling their craftwork and giving photo opportunities.
Descendants of Turkic, Mongolic and Indo-Iranian tribes, Kazakhs now roam the mountains of western Mongolia, hunting with eagles and living by the supernatural forces of good and evil spirits. Family is extremely important, a result of the tradition that one must not marry anyone related within nine generations. They rely strongly on the eagles given to them as young boys, which in the winter months, fetch their kill to share with their master. Kazakhs wear thick furs when riding horses in the cold mountains, and decorate their houses with intricate wall hangings.
Very much an umbrella term for all the tribes inhabiting the far north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland, Naga people have very similar cultures and traditions away from the far more westernised states in India. There are 16 officially recognised Naga tribes in the state, although there are many more beyond the border. You can witness the celebration of all the tribes at the Hornbill Festival, or at several individual festivals, complete with singing, dancing, food, sports and colourful performances, or explore the natural and Government-developed hotspots of Nagaland.
Indigenous people of New Zealand, Maori have been traced back to the Eastern Polynesia islands, their journey from which involved a number of voyages by canoe or ‘waka’, suggesting their natural sense of navigation. Maori people are defined by their art, performance and sense of community, and there’s been an increasing interest into their language. Ta moko is the traditional permanent marking of the body and face, different to tattoos because a chisel carves the skin, rather than a needle puncturing it. To have such markings symbolises commitment and respect to Maori culture.