Facts about indigenous peoples

 The 9th of August is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples and this page provides a brief overview of the most important international agreements related to indigenous peoples and some general facts about indigenous peoples.

Since 1968, IWGIA has cooperated with indigenous peoples' organisations and international institutions to promote recognition and implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples. IWGIA works to empower indigenous peoples through documentation, capacity development and advocacy on a local, regional and international level. To achieve our mission we provide documentation, support advocacy and empower indigenous peoples’ organisations and institutions via global partnerships. On the occasion of IWGIA's 50 years jubilee defending indigenous peoples' rights, IWGIA's Executive Director, Julie Koch, takes a closer look at the developments and current issues affecting indigenous peoples. Read more here >>

Who are indigenous peoples?

The term indigenous peoples is a common denominator for distinct peoples who, through historical processes, have been marginalised and denied their right to control their own development. For indigenous peoples, self-identification is the basic principle in claiming and asserting indigenous identity. Indigenous peoples present a vast spectrum of differentiated organisational representations depending on their history, relationship with the State, level of recognition and other contextual factors.

Core human rights conventions and declarations related to indigenous peoples

Several international declarations and agreements that acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples have been adopted internationally. Here are some of the most important:

5 general facts about indigenous peoples

  • There are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 90 countries
  • Indigenous peoples are 5% of the world's population but account for 15% of the world's extreme poor
  • There exist more than 5.000 indigenous communities and they speak around 4.000 different languages
  • Indigenous peoples encompass approximately 22% of the world’s land surface and are estimated to hold 80% of the planet’s biodiversity
  • According to United Nations, indigenous peoples are facing greater violations of their rights than was the case 10 years ago

Read more about indigenous issues

Every year we publish The Indigenous World. It is a one-of-a-kind documentation tool, that offers a comprehensive yearly overview of the developments indigenous peoples experience around the world. This years edition is written by 83 authors and covers the latest developments in 56 countries and 13 international processes. It is free and you can download it here >>

Are you interested in the latest development for indigenous peoples in one specific country? Then visit our database and choose your country of interest to get the latest update here >>

Read the latest publications on indigenous issues here >>

Read the latest news related indigenous issues here >>


Tags: Land rights, Global governance, Climate, Human rights



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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