Currently, about 15,000 cultures are remaining on earth, with about 3,000 classified as endangered. Though beneficial, modernization has some adverse side effects, including abandoning traditions and culture. Here are 11 popular cultures believed to be on the verge of extinction.

1. Drokpa

For centuries, the Drokpa of Ladakh, India, have lived by themselves as their culture forbids marrying outside the tribe ( but allows wife swapping). Additionally, many new members of this tribe have migrated from Ladakh to urban cities and abandoned their culture, contributing to the steady decline in numbers. As of 2020, there were less than 2,000 Drokpas in the valley of Ladakh.

2. Huaorani

Huaroni is a tribe that lives in the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. Members are primarily hunters and gatherers and have stuck to this way of life for many years. They thrive in the Amazon forest because there is access to ready food, and the vegetation protects them from outsiders.

However, when crude oil was discovered in their habitats, the government started flushing the Huaorani from the Amazon forest. This conflict has caused a significant reduction in the population of the Huaorani tribe because some members fled to the cities. There are approximately 1300 Huaorani left.

3. Kalash


The Kalash is an indigenous tribe residing in Pakistan’s Chitral district. They practice a polytheist religion that resembles both Hinduism and Paganism. Muslims surround this community, so many of them have been influenced to convert their religion, leading to excommunication.

Apart from religion, military attacks targeted at the Kalash community have also caused a steady decline in their population. There are about 3,000 Kalashas left in Chitral district.

4. Tsaatan

In Nothern Mongolia, there is a herding tribe called the Tsaatan. This community relies on reindeer for meat, milk, cheese, and transportation. Like many nomadic tribes, the Tsaatan are an endangered community.

So far, the entire community has a population of about 4000 people. Many Tsaatans have been affected by modernization and have abandoned the nomadic lifestyle. The younger generation, in particular, prefers to move to the cities.

5. Nenets

A census conducted in 2010 revealed that there are only 45,000 Nenets left in Arctic Russia. This is also a nomadic tribe that relies on reindeer herding and hunting as their main economic activities. Initially, they were known as the Samoyed, which means “self-eater.” But with time, the name was changed to Nenets, which means “man.” They believe in preserving the land and its offerings.

6. Mursi

This endangered community resides along the Omo River in Ethiopia, near the border of South Sudan. The Mursi have a very unique culture. They can be identified by the wooden disc plate that they wear on their lower lips. The Mursi belongs to the Nilo-Saharan language group. Only 10,000 Mursi people are left, and almost half of the people from this tribe reside in urban areas.

7. Rabari

In India, there is a community of nomads known as the Rabari that is almost going extinct. Rabari means outsider (they picked that name because they were initially newcomers to India). For centuries, the Rabari practiced a nomadic way of life and would roam the deserts in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Punjab.

In the age of modernization, many Rabari people decided to end the nomadic way of life and settled in some of the thriving cities in India. Today, the Rabari are semi-nomads. And as much as they practice livestock keeping and nomadism, many have settled down and started farming.

8. Lopa

The Lopa of Mustang is a Tibetan community with less than 3,500 people. It joins the list of yet another culture that has been crippled by modernization. A few years back, the Lopa were famous for their mud-brick houses with no windows; they would only make small holes to let fresh air pass through. The Lopa also practiced various economic activities such as livestock keeping, farming, and trading.

Since this culture was influenced by modernization, the Lopa stopped building their traditional structures. Today, they are building modern homes and have abandoned the mentioned cultural practices.

9. Huli

Even though the population of the Huli people is estimated to be 100,000 to 200,000, they are still in grave danger of extinction. The Huli people of New Papua Guinea flew under the radar for a long time; they were discovered in 1934. They are famous for their face painting and giant wigs.

A couple of factors are pushing the Huli community to the verge of extinction. First, other tribes in New Papua Guinea are taking advantage of the illiteracy among the Huli and are buying their land at very low prices. Secondly, their habitat is being threatened by deforestation in the exploration of natural gas.

10. Korowai

In Indonesia, the Korowai people have a population of less than 3,000. Before the 1970s, the Korowai thought they were the only human beings on earth because they had not interacted with others. They are famous for building and living in treehouses.

When the Korowai discovered other people in Indonesia, most left the community, causing a massive reduction in their population. In the 21st century, loggers and miners are the community’s most significant threats.

11. Awa

The Awa or Gauja tribe is on the verge of extinction because there are only 350 people left. This indigenous tribe in Brazil embraced a nomadic way of life when the Europeans started exploring their territory in the 1800s.

Throughout history, loggers have pushed them out of the forest. The government of Brazil has tried to prevent the Awa tribe from going extinct by building settlements for them. It also received a loan from the World Bank to buy land for the Awa tribe in 1982. Despite these measures, the population of the Awa tribe continues to decline.

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Last Update: July 7, 2024