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Bribri [archive]

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For thousands of years the Bribri People have lived in harmony with nature. The Bribri are located in the mountains and low-lying Caribbean coastal areas of southern Costa Rica and northern Panama on the Talamanca reservation. Approximately 5200 Bribri people have maintained an indigenous culture that's different from the rest of the country. Indigenous means that the Bribri were the original inhabitants of Talamanca.

Agriculture is the main activity of the Bribri. They have roughly 120 wild and domestic crops used for food, building materials, medicine, and commercial trading. The Bribri are extremely isolated, and consequently, they have developed an extensive bartering system. Mostly the Bribri women participate in the trading of goods with neighbors. In addition to a bartering system, the Bribri isolation has caused them to have poor education and healthcare. They also have the lowest income per capita in the country; however, this isolation has made the Bribri a relatively self-sufficient society where there are enough crops grown and livestock raised to sustain them. One small tribe of the Bribri, the Kekoldi, only has about 200 people. They partake in the very unique practice of iguana farming. Iguanas are very important to the forest, so due to over-hunting, the Kekoldi tribe has devised a very efficient way to replenish the iguana population. The farm has been operating for 11 years and has about 2,000 iguanas and 2,000,000 eggs. The iguanas stay on the farm until five years of age at which time they are then released into the wild.

The Bribri have their own language. They have a rich culture that has been molded over thousands of years and remained relatively untouched by western civilization.


Voices from a town meeting in indigenous Costa Rica Vandegrift, Darcie. University of California, Santa Barbara. 1996.

Community Development with the Bribri of Costa Rica Agroecology Research Group 1999.

Additional Reading

 Bribri Language
 Bribri Vocabulary
 Bribri Culture
 Indian Tribes of Costa Rica

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