Nomad is defined as a member of a community without a fixed habitation. They regularly move between the same areas. There are three types of nomads around the world: hunter-gatherers, pastorals, and thinker/trader nomads.
Nomads are known for their migration. They migrate periodically in a year so that they will be back to their first location. It is estimated that there are about 30-40 million nomads around the world. In below we describe different types and nomadic tribes around the world. Before starting on this article, reading The Origin of Nomadism can be quite helpful.
Hunter-gatherers or also known as Forager seem to be the earliest type of human community. They seasonally harvest wild plants and as a result move campsite to campsite. Accordingly, their main food is obtained from foraging. They had different strategies based on their local environment. The strategies include hunting, trapping big game, fishing, gathering insects, and gathering wild plants. Due to the developments in agriculture, they have mostly extinct or converted to farming and animal husbandry. There are different hunter-gatherer tribes around the world:
- Tlingit: They were a group of hunter-gatherers in the American Continent decimated by disease brought over by Europeans. There are still about 15,000 Tlingits living in in the border of Alaska and British Columbia.
- Khoisan: They live in southern Africa. Though modernization has threatened their lifestyle, they have tried to keep it alive.
- Nukak-Maku: They have hidden deep into Amazon rainforest in Colombia. There are less than 1000 of them living now. They live in small groups (9-30 people). They are constantly in a move and settle in a place only for a few days.
- Bushmen: The indigenous Bushmen live in southern Africa and most of them are hunter-gatherers. Above all, they are well known for their deep connection with the environment.
2. Pastoral Nomads
Pastoral Nomads are one of the biggest parts of nomads around the world. They raise herds (sheep, cattle, goat, and camels) and move with them to places for the reason that pastures have suitable plants for the herds. They are sedentary in a specific location and move to another place for their resources. Pastorals are mainly in central Asia and West Africa. Seems like the more authentic type move the herds while the modern ones drive the herds to the location.
- Iran Nomads: There are different nomadic tribes in Iran including Bakhtiari, Qashqai, Shahsavans, and etc. The population of nomads in Iran is around 1,000,000 people which consists of 1.5% of the Iran population. There are nomads in almost every province of Iran except for the Kurdistan. Fars Province has the greatest number of nomads which are about 141,315 nomads. It includes 11.91% of the Iran nomads. Qashqais mainly live in Fars Province. Furthermore, they are famous for their weaving and carpets.
- Bakhtiari live in the southwest of Iran. They are the biggest tribe of Iran nomads who still migrate on foot (not with cars). They consider themselves as descendants of Key Arashthe brother of Key Ghobad who is an Iranian Mythological King. For more information about Bakhtiaris, read this: “Who are the Bakhtiari? | Are They Still Nomads?”.
- Bedouin: There are about 21 million Bedouin people. Although many of Bedouins changed their lifestyle from nomadism. But they tried to keep their culture and their Arabic language. It is one of the purest forms of languages.
- Kochis (Kuchis): 1.5 out of 2.4 million of them in Afghanistan still keep their nomadic lifestyle. Like so many pastoral nomads, they raise goats and sheep and sell their meat, wool and dairy products for a living.
- Sarakatsani: There is the Greek nomadic group. They were nomads since the 4th century AD. The Sarakatsani were perpetually on the move and dependent on nature. Above all, they subject to the demands of the flocks that were their sole possession and which determined their whole way of life. In springtime, they move with their families and flocks into the high mountains of Rhodopi (today’s Bulgaria) in search of grazing.
- Mongols: There are 3-6 million Mongols in China. They are nomadic pastoralists and live in structures called Yurt. They mostly herd sheep, yak, goat, camel, and horses.
- Pokot: They are nomads in Kenya and Uganda. They are well known for their rich proverbs, riddles, and stories as well. There are almost 700,000 Pokots living their nomadic lifestyle now.
3. Peripatetic Nomads
Also known as tinker or trader nomads are one of the types nomads around the world. They travel place to place and offer a trade. The development of agriculture and industrialization has changed their lifestyle, so they are a few nomads in the world remaining their lifestyle. Most of them have some traditions which originate from South Asia. Peripatetics in Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan still speak the dialect of Indo-Aryan like Koli and Ghorbati. Irish Travelers are a sample of Peripatetic Nomads.