Panama is a very diverse country. Its inhabitants are from many different types of backgrounds. Spanish, Indian, West Indian, Chinese and other culture have blended together to create the vibrant country that we know today. However, before these ethnicities came together, there were indigenous tribes that hunted, gathered, and carved out their own traditions in the land. There were seven main tribes that made up Panama’s indigenous people. Let’s take a closer look at the three most prominent.

1. Kuna

The Kuna live mainly on the San Blas islands. This culture has traditionally been a “warrior” tribe and they have managed to survive by being open to the change that modernization brings. While they are open minded people, they strive to maintain their culture and identity.

2. Ngobe Bugle

The Ngobe Bugle cultures represent over 63% of Panama’s indigenous population and are centered in the Bocas del Toro, Veraguas and Chiriqui provinces. The main economy of this tribe is agriculture, primarily banana and coffee. Handcrafts have become increasingly important as the Ngoble Bugle are known for chaquiras. These are necklaces and bracelets made with plastic beads.

3. Embera Waounan

The Embera Waounan peoples originally came from South America and now live in the Darien Jungle. This tribe survives on agriculture, fishing and hunting. If you were to visit, you would see tradition clothing, body paint and jewelry still in existence.

Most of the people in Panama live in urban areas equipped with modern day amenities. Interacting with these indigenous people give us a glimpse of how love was many years ago and also an insight into how these proud cultures adapt with the world but still maintain their identities.

Enid Glasgow