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Moving Forever: An Online Guide to Nomads

Moving Forever: An Online Guide to Nomads

In modern-day contexts, nomads may be more commonly referred to as itinerants. They are defined as a community, or group, of people who frequently move from one place to the next without ever permanently settling in one location. Throughout the world, there are an estimated 30 to 40 million nomads. In industrialized countries, traditional nomadic behavior is less common than other cultures that are traditionally nomadic. Three categories exist when speaking in terms of economic specialization and include peripatetic nomads, pastoral nomads and hunter-gatherers.

Peripatetic nomads are the most common within nations that are industrialized. This category of nomads offers skills of a trade or craft to the people they travel with. Pastoral nomads simply raise herds and drive or move with them. Hunting and gathering nomads follow the method that is the oldest of following game and wild plants that are seasonally available.


Many nomadic communities existed in different parts of Asia such as Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. In Turkey, the nomads included Abdal, Arabci, Bosha, Cingene, Gawandi, Ghorbati, Qeraci, Susmani, Tahtaci and Tsigan. In Pakistan, there was Dom. Iran had many different groups: Bakhtiari, Orak, Asheq, Challi, Dumi, Feuj, Gurani and Haddad. There was also Kenchli, Kowli, Luri, Luti, Mehtar, Suzmani, Tat and Toshmal. Afghanistan consisted of at least 30 known communities, a few of which included Pikraj, Kouli, Mesopotamia, Nausar and Musalli.


The European culture as a whole has typically been a stable and settled type of lifestyle. Although this is the case, there have been nomadic communities that are small in size that have existed. The best known and most important of these communities are the Romani people. The Romani people are more commonly referred to as Gypsies and originated from India, entering into Europe in the 14th century. When King Charles III ruled in 1783, certain prohibitions took place that prohibited the nomadic lifestyle. Other nomadic communities included Yeniche, Reisende, Tater, Ceardannan and Quinqui.



The Taureg community is a nomad group of the Sahara. These nomads speak various Tuareg languages and are of Berber descent. They wear blue robes and are referred to as the Blue Men of the Sahara because of this. They are pastorialist nomads and call themselves Kel Tamajaq or Kel Tamasheq, which translates into “Speakers of Tamasheq”. Other nomadic communities in Africa include Zenata, Fula, Maasai, Bedouin, Marinid, Almohad and Almoravid.

South America

In the northern part of South America, nomads could be found from the Orinoco River to Cape Horn. The groups that were found on the southern half of the continent were the most variable of them all. These nomads were of the hunters and gatherers group. The Alacaluf, Chono and Yamana Indians were located in the south and occupied the entire Chilean archipelago down towards Cape Horn. They were shellfish gatherers that traveled most by canoe.

Also in the south was the Ona who occupied the area of steppes and plains from Tierra del Fuego to the Pampas. There was no agriculture that was practiced and domesticated animals did not exist, so these nomads were hunters and gatherers of all types with the possible exception of a dog. The people of the Gran Chaco survived on plants primarily with the occasional supplement of fish. Other nomads in South America include the Siriono, Nambikwara, Guayaki and Guato.

North America

A few nomadic communities exist in North America and include the Romani people, or gypsies, Carnys, military brats and Irish Travelers. Carnys are also referred to as showies and carnies and are carnival employees. These are people who run a booth and travel from one place to another. A military brat is perhaps the most common type of nomad in North America and simply refers to those who move from location to location due to a member of the family being a serviceman. Irish Travellers are traditionally of Irish descent who live predominately in the United Stated, Great Britain and Ireland.


In Australia, the focus of nomads becomes geared towards people who have retired. They are called Grey Nomads and are usually over the age of 50. These nomads travel around Australia and spend a considerable amount of time doing so. They are explore Australia inlands during their travels and experience as much of the land as possible before they move on to the next location.