More Than 100 "Uncontacted" Tribes Exist In Total Isolation From Global Society

Gleilson Miranda/State of Acre Department of Communication/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.5 BR)

We are more connected today than at any time in our species' history, yet isolated pockets of people still manage to live apart from globalized society.

It's impossible to know exactly how many such tribes exist. Organizations like Survival International, however, estimate that more than 100 are sprinkled around the globe.

To call these people "uncontacted," as they often are, is imprecise: It's nearly impossible to completely avoid contact with outsiders, and even harder to avoid objects like factory-made knives or bowls that make their way deep into remote areas through trade.

Despite these connections, dozens of groups manage to preserve their isolation and ways of life.

Unfortunately, environmental destruction and exploitation — such as clearing forests for timber and farms — put many of these cultures at great risk. Survival International, the Brazilian government's FUNAI (National Indian Foundation), and other advocacy groups seek to protect vulnerable tribes without interfering with them.

Here's where some of these groups live and the challenges they face in preserving their unique existence.

What does it mean to be uncontacted?

Gleilson Miranda/Acre Government/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

The name's a bit misleading — these are groups of people that have avoided, or even violently rejected, contact with the outside world.

Indian Coast Guard

Source: Survival International

It's possible they've made contact with outsiders at some point, but violence from settlers may have pushed them to return to isolation. Others may have never had an interest in the first place, championing their independence.

Gleilson Miranda/Government of Acre (CC BY 2.0)

These tribes can avoid the outside world largely because of their geographic isolation in some of the most remote corners of the planet.

Gleilson Miranda/Acre Government/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Some live in the dense jungle highlands of New Guinea in Southeast Asia.

Angela N Perryman/Shutterstock
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