When you visit a new country, and try to understand its culture, it’s sometimes easier to look for answers by exploring its past. Some countries are lucky enough to have tribes who have been around for hundreds of years and can tell you a lot about its history.
Sometimes, by visiting these tribes and speaking with elders about their traditions and beliefs, travelers can get great insight into how they influenced modern society. All of a sudden a monument to an important figure becomes a lot more interesting than just a tourist attraction to cross off your list.
But who are the tribes who have survived modern times?
15. Maori – New Zealand
According to the census of 2013, Maoris represent about 15% of New Zealand’s population with roughly 600,000 people. They were originally indigenous Polynesian people who arrived in New Zealand around 1250 BCE.
Maoris are famous for their face tattoos called tā moko, which in the past only people with a high rank would receive. They’re also popular because of the haka, which is a war dance used by the All Blacks before rugby matches.
14. Quechua – Peru
If you’ve ever had the chance to venture around the Andes in South America, you may have come across the Quechua people. They’re descendants of the Inca and their culture is still very much present in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.
Quechua people used to treat malaria-like symptoms with the bark of the cinchona tree, where you can find quinine, the main ingredient of modern malaria pills. They’re also famous for chewing coca leaves to alleviate altitude sickness and fight fatigue.
13. Tupi – Brazil
When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil in the 1500s, the first tribe they met along the coast was the Tupi people. At the time, it’s estimated their population was at one million people, which was divided into several tribes of 300 to 2,000 people.
They were famous for their cannibalistic rituals, as they believed they’d acquire the strength of the warriors they ate. You can also see their influence on many Portuguese words like Ipanema (the famous beach), arara (macaw), or abacaxi (pineapple).