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Mapped: The World’s Minority Indigenous Peoples
Humanity has spread to almost every corner of Earth, and while some peoples have continued to move, others have grown roots in one region.
Generally the term indigenous peoples refers to social or cultural groups with strong ancestral ties to their land of origin. Many times these are tied to ethnicity and still live in their land of origin, but some have been displaced, diluted, or become minorities in their lands.
This map by Bhabna Banerjee uses data from the Indigenous World 2022 report to show the population distribution of the roughly 476 million minority Indigenous groups around the world. When 2022 data was unavailable, the latest available data was used.
Methodology: Indigenous vs. Minority Indigenous
Before diving in, it’s important to note that this map looks at minority Indigenous peoples as defined by the United Nations. This refers to groups of people who are not in a dominant position in their respective countries, or have a history of oppression or displacement by settlers.
Because of this, ethnic groups like the Han people in China, the Turks in Turkey, or the Scots in Scotland were not included in the dataset.
On the flip side, groups like Greenland’s Inuit were included, because of their long history of colonial control as well as Danish influence.
Indigenous Minority Populations Worldwide
Of all the countries included in the report, China has the highest number of minority Indigenous, with an estimated population of 125.3 million.
It’s worth noting that the Chinese government does not officially acknowledge the existence of Indigenous peoples. However, they do recognize 55 different ethnic minority groups across the nation, including the Zhuang, Mongolians, and the Hui.
|Country||Minority Indigenous Population||Year of Data|
|Rep. of Congo||43,378||2022|
After China, India has the second largest Indigenous populations, with over 700 officially recognized ethnic groups. Many of these ethnic minorities are concentrated in the north-eastern region of India, from Rajasthan to West Bengal.
While different countries and territories have varying numbers of Indigenous peoples, one thing remains consistent across the board—on average, the world’s minority Indigenous populations typically face greater economic and social challenges than their non-Indigenous (or non-minority) counterparts.
Disadvantages Faced by Indigenous Peoples
Research by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) found that, while minority Indigenous peoples make up only 6% of the world’s total population, they account for nearly 20% of the world’s extreme poor.
In addition, Indigenous peoples also have much lower average life expectancies than non-Indigenous people, according to a report by the United Nations.
Some countries and governments around the world are starting to implement laws and policies to support and recognize Indigenous communities, but there’s still work to be done.