The English term “Amerindian” (short for “Indians of the Americas”) is often used in the Guianas. Latin Americans of mixed European and indigenous descent are usually referred to as mestizos (Spanish) and mestiços (Portuguese).
But most of the known uncontacted tribes live in South America, deep in the Amazon rainforest. Brazil claims to have most of the world’s uncontacted people, estimating as many as 77 tribes – though National Geographic estimates as many as 84. Many of them live in the western states of Mato Grosso, Rondonia, and Acre.
The Cherokee tribe is the second most common, with 285,476 Americans identifying with that group. 2010 Census Data.
Major pre-Columbian civilisations include the Olmecs and Aztecs of Mexico, the Inca and Tiahuanaco civilisations of the Andes and the Mayans of Central America. Some of the most well-known indigenous peoples descended from these civilizations: Quecha. Aymara.
The word Indian came to be used because Christopher Columbus repeatedly expressed the mistaken belief that he had reached the shores of South Asia. Convinced he was correct, Columbus fostered the use of the term Indios (originally, “person from the Indus valley”) to refer to the peoples of the so- called New World.
Mapuche, the most numerous group of Indians in South America.
The Sentinelese. The Sentinelese are an uncontacted tribe living on North Sentinal Island, one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They vigorously reject all contact with outsiders. Survival International lobbies, protests and uses public pressure to ensure their wish to remain uncontacted is respected.
The Norte Chico civilization in Peru is the oldest civilization in the Americas and one of the first six independent civilizations in the world; it was contemporaneous with the Egyptian pyramids. It predated the Mesoamerican Olmec by nearly two millennia.
The Awá are people living in the eastern Amazon rainforest. There are approximately 350 members, and 100 of them have no contact with the outside world. The Korubu live in the lower Vale do Javari in the western Amazon Basin. Other tribes may include the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, and the Himarimã.
Today, the Shakopee Mdewakanton are believed to be the richest tribe in American history as measured by individual personal wealth: Each adult, according to court records and confirmed by one tribal member, receives a monthly payment of around $84,000, or $1.08 million a year.
The Navaho Indians (the “ Dine,” or “ Navaho People,” in their native language), indigenous to the American Southwest, comprise the largest Native American tribe in the United States today.
Quahadis were the hardest, fiercest, least yielding component of a tribe that had long had the reputation as the most violent and warlike on the continent; if they ran low on water, they were known to drink the contents of a dead horse’s stomach, something even the toughest Texas Ranger would not do.
Religion in South America has been a major influence on art, culture, philosophy and law. Christianity is the main religion, with Roman Catholics having the most adherents. Sizeable minorities of non-religious people and adherents of other religions are also present.
Although most of Latin America was colonized by Spain, the countries of Portugal and France also had major influences on the region. Due to war and disease, native populations were decimated. The European countries’ demand for free labor led them to engage in the African slave trade.
Culturally and linguistically, Latin America is defined as nations in the Americas and the Caribbean whose residents predominantly speak Spanish or Portuguese—two of the many languages descended from Latin.