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The life of the Kuna Indians

Scene in Nusadup With approximately 60.000 members the Kuna* represent the largest indigenous group in Panama. The worldwide second smallest people after the pygmies populate the 360 islands in the San Blas archipelago and the narrow strip on the Caribbean coast of Panama and Colombia since the 18th century.

While the Kuna who settled in Panama City mostly work as cooks or unskilled workers, the Kuna in the traditional communities are still engaged in agriculture, fishing, and trading with coco nuts. The biggest part of the financial power belongs to the women, who, by selling their Molas, are responsible for the main part of the family income.

That led to a further concentration of power in favour of the women in the traditionally matriarchic society. For example the belongings and property are always handed down from mother to daughter, husbands have to move in with their parents in law and the puberty ceremony of the young girls is one of the most important social events in each community.

Location of San Blas
Panama Mola 2009