Skip to main content

Indigenous Groups in Central America

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

A Mayan Temple

A Mayan Temple

The Mayans Today

The Mayans are not extinct, but living in Central America in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvadore, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. They are the dominant ethic group among natives in Guatemala and appear to some extent in the other nearby countries as well as in multiracial peoples.

Central American Nations

Central American Nations

What is Central America?

Central America includes the countries of Belize, Costa, Rica, El Salvadore, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.


Mestizos are the "Metis" that are well-known elsewhere. They are Europeans mixed with indigenous peoples through intermarriage.

This group makes up about half of the population of Belize and the Maya make up another 7%. The Garifuna migrated to Belize in the 1800s from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and mixed with African, Creoles, Carib Indians, and the Arawak tribe to make up another 5%.

Thus, indigenous peoples comprise a little over 60% of the residents of Belize.


Many of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala are all from the Mayans. Other groups are Xinca and Garífuna. Mayan comprise 40% of the population.

Indigenous people of Central America are also called Native Central Americans in anthropology.

More About the Mayans

  • Native Mexican Nations: Native American Nations in Mexico
    Mexico is full of significant art finds by Aboriginal Peoples and the more modern as well. Some of the artistic representations of the Indigenous residents is similar to some of that in the Ukraine and the far northern reaches of Russia. Some of it l


The Miskito Native Central Americans live from Cape Cameron Rio Grande, Nicaragua, all along the Miskito Coast. Their language is Miskito, but they speak Miskito Creole-English, Spanish, Rama, and others languages.

Miskitos intermarried with slaves and their community was ruled by a king that shared his power with a a governor, a general, and an admiral.

Costa Rica

Scroll to Continue

About 94% of the country is Mestizo and 1% Amerindian.


The Kuna Indians of Panama are famous for colorful dresses, including the mola. The mola is a reverse appliqué made of layers of fabric stitched to reveal different colors in blouse panels.

  • Example of Kuna Poetry

Nocturnal by Irik Limnio


The twelve spirits of the earth say

That you didn't cry on the day they birthed you

In their home you roamed in the protuberances of the brilliant stars.

They say you walked secretly

And you melted into the pale plants which appeared before your gaze.


The woman who gave birth to you says that the clouds

Arranged themselves in your glory just for the lament

And humans complain to you that they have had a terrifying dream.

Night, it seems to me that you undulate, pitted with the little eyes of the cherubs who shine continually.

I think you are a Nocturnal like the one I have in the depths of my being.

A Kuna indigenous woman with her artworks.

A Kuna indigenous woman with her artworks.


About 90% of Honduran populations are Mestizo with another 7% being members of seven recognized indigenous groups called The Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH), including

  • The Grafuna;
  • The Ch'orti', Mayans in the northwest close to Guatemala;
  • The Garifuna speaking a Carib language along the entire Caribbean coastline and the Bay Islands;
  • The Pech or Paya in a small area in the Olancho department;
  • The Tolupan (Jicaque, Xicaque, or Tol), in the Department of Yoro and in Montaña de la Flor and the Department of Yoro;
  • The Lenca in the Valle and Choluteca departments;
  • The Miskito on the northeast coast along Nicaragua's border.

Thus, 97% of this country is indigenous.

El Salvador

El Salvador is 89 % Mestizo and 10 % Amerindian. The original peoples here were the Pipil and Lenca.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 22, 2017:

@PJ - The easiest way today is to send off to take the DNA test from National Geographic. It may be on sale for a discounted price right now.

Pj Burns(Lairson) on August 19, 2017:

How do I find out which Indians i come from

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 23, 2010:

In your Internet and local libraries, look up the Miskito people of Nicaragua. They are at least one of the Indigenous Peoples found in your country and there may be others now or in the past. We sometimes refer to these Indigenous ones as Native Central Americans.

Maria on September 23, 2010:

I am interested in my country culture and history and recently while i was doing this report for my country I read something but still never got o know the exact information. but i would like to know if People from Nicaragua in any way are Native Americans?????

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 10, 2009:

No no, - not wiki. :) Thanks for reading!

Lose Belly Fat Fast on November 10, 2009:

Great hub there! Can I call you "wikipedia"?? :P

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 03, 2008:

Abhinaya, there will be several more in this series, yet! I am glad you and your child are enjoying these.

Abhinaya on January 03, 2008:

Patty is this the last of this series?I think I missed out the last one.I was teaching my kid about North and South America last month and learned a lot about the races and relief features.It was great fun.I think you need to publish a book on this honestly.Thanks for sharing so much of information.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 02, 2008:

Thank you very much. I studied Indigenous Pepoles all around the globe in college and have kept up with research and notes for several years.

gabriella05 from Oldham on January 01, 2008:

Another great hub Patty Fantastic knowledge

Thank you

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 29, 2007:

Hi Z!!  How are you?

Well, it will take about a year just to update all my resources, since this is from college notes and recetn fact-checking. LOL I think an online Directory, virtual book would be better. Jimmythejock sparked that idea in my mind. :)

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 28, 2007:

So hows the rest of your book coming along??? You just have to put all of these Hubs together into a book. These are just so well explained articles.

Good one again Patty

regards Zsuzsy

Related Articles