Women in a tribal Gond adivasi village, Madhya Pradesh, IndiaIndigenous peoples, also known as aboriginal peoples or native peoples, are ethnic groups who are descended from the original inhabitants of an area—in contrast to the descendants of those who have colonized it more recently. Sometimes the indigenous population have adopted the culture of the colonizers, such as dress, religion or language. In some parts of the world, for example Africa, China and Indonesia, most of the present-day population originate from that region. The United Nations estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous people belonging to at least 5000 distinct ethnic groups living in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Indigenous peoples of the American continent are the descendants of those who lived there before Europeans began to settle there in the 16th century. The arrival of the Europeans had a massive impact on the native peoples with whom they came into contact: conflict and the spread of diseases both caused a catastrophic decline in numbers. Indigenous peoples of the Americas are known as Native Americans, Amerindians, American Indians or, in Canada, First Nations. In some countries, they form a sizeable part of the population. For example, they make up more than half of Bolivians and Guatemalans. In the US, 2.9 million people identify as being solely of Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native ancestry.
The ancient Greeks knew of the prior existence of indigenous people in their own land, whom they called the "Pelasgians". Who they were and where they came from remains a mystery.
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