Those communities are known as nomads , which frequently move from one place to another, instead of staying permanently in a single region .

What is a nomad?

By this concept, we understand all those peoples that, instead of settling in one place permanently, move from one sector to another. The relocation behaviors of these peoples are due more to the need for resources and adaptation to climate change, rather than erratic and senseless behavior, as is usually believed.

  • Definition of nomad
  • Characteristics
  • Nomad types
  • Story
  • Lifetime
  • Activities
  • Where did they live
  • Economy
  • Nomads today
  • How they differ from sedentary ones
  • Nomads by country
  • Examples of nomadic peoples

Definition of nomad

In sociology and anthropology , we meet very different peoples . Their behaviors can be so varied that they overwhelm the inexperienced observer. The sedentary lifestyle vs nomadism is a polarity of anthropological behavior studied from the beginning, and why some people choose to settle or migrate is a question that gnaws doubt more than one investigator.


What, then, are nomads ? We can see them as all those peoples who chose mobility as their main lifestyle. Unlike other peoples that have become the common denominator of society, nomads do not settle for a long time in the same place. On the contrary, they are societies that are in constant movement and that rarely settle in the same place for long. They still exist among us today, and many have made it a way of life even among industrialized societies. We will talk about this complex topic today.


To define these peoples is to define their main characters . They are not like sedentary peoples , from whom they are distinguished by aspects that we will name a little below. The nomads are differentiated by the following:

  • It is a style of living that has its own administrative, political, economic and cultural characteristics.
  • They are generally groups of people guided or governed by a patriarchy .
  • They give great importance to oral tradition .
  • They are peoples that are in constant connection with nature .
  • It is the oldest form of organization of peoples that exists, going back to prehistoric times .

Nomad types

Depending on the activity that served them as sustenance, the nomads could be subdivided into the following categories:

  • Nomadic fishermen , who found their support in fishing for whales, fish and shellfish.
  • Nomadic hunters , who hunted small and medium-sized animals, generally. However, they also hunted the larger animals.
  • Nomadic gatherers , who were dedicated to the collection of fruits, vegetables and other products that could be located in the forests.


Understanding the history of nomadism is a difficult task. It is known, for sure, that they are from the oldest peoples of humanity ; they date back to prehistoric times. It could be said that the first documents in which a chronicle of the nomads can be found is in the biblical ones . Other sources declare that they are peoples that originally supported themselves through hunting , and the nomads themselves have their own system of legends that tell us, via oral tradition, of the origins of these peoples. All these records tell us that they are peoples who find their sources in the first human groups.


Defining the life of nomads is also very difficult. Depending a lot on the town in question, their lifestyle can be very varied. It could be said that, as a general rule, they are a set of tribes organized or managed by a figure of patriarch , who would hold absolute powers in the administrative organization of society. These are groups that are quite concerned about caring for nature and the environment , since their relationship with this is different from that of sedentary peoples .


One might think that these peoples are differentiated by the actions they carry in their daily lives . Next, we will name and describe some of the activities that we can most find among nomadic peoples:


As they are groups in constant movement, some of these peoples find as their main source of support the meats and nutrients provided by the creatures that are in their care. It could be said that their relationship is one of mutual care, since, for example, the Bedouin have a committed relationship with camels by allowing them to move through the desert.


It is one of the oldest practices among nomads. However, it is also one of the least common; hunting represents a risk to the life of its members, due to the danger of some beasts, and the human losses are for these peoples a sacrifice too great for their good.


Another of the most common activities. Depending on the area in which they live, nomads find their support in activities such as gathering fruits, vegetables, legumes … It could be said that a large part of the nomads’ diet is vegetarian.


Which is an activity only present in those groups that had contact with creatures from the coasts and rivers.

Where did they live

Being a series of increasingly scarce groups , the nomads are unevenly distributed around the globe . However, we can assure you that these are found on each of the five continents . One could meet these peoples, for example, in areas like the Sahara or Greenland , where the most famous nomads are found. In general, nomads find their settlement in areas such as the desert, the coasts, some forests and some steppes.


As they are groups reluctant to the idea of ​​permanently settling in a certain sector , their economy, it could be said, was based on the notion of maintaining and trading with the resources that were available. Some towns traded with the products they acquired in a certain area, and exchanged them for others in a totally different area. Others were driven more by gathering food and other goods that they could extract from nature . At this point, the economy was somewhat more dependent on the type of town itself, but always based on the mobile reality of that society.

Nomads today

Currently, we can find cases of nomadic peoples such as:

  • The Ghilji, in Afghanistan.
  • The Nukak, in Colombia.
  • The Eskimos, in Greenland.
  • The Tuareg, in the Middle East.

How they differ from sedentary ones

One could say that the main difference that nomads have with sedentary ones , lies in the chosen lifestyle. The sedentary have a permanent home , and may or may not be subjected to the industrialization process . However, nomads are an exception to this.

Nomads by country

  • Colombia : Nukak , Makú and Wayuu people .
  • Guatemala : (No information).
  • Mexico : Chichimeca people.
  • Venezuela : Wayuu and Yanomami people .
  • Spain : gypsy people.

Examples of nomadic peoples

One of the most paradigmatic cases in history is that of the Eskimos . They are one of the most famous in history, and from those who have taken important examples for films devoted to this topic. The Eskimos structure their migrations according to the animals , with whom they have a supportive relationship since these are the ones who provide them with the benefits and resources necessary to survive.

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