The Bribri are an indigenous indian tribe who live in the mountains and low-lying Caribbean coastal areas of southern Costa Rica and northern Panama on the Talamanca reservation. The Bribri were the original inhabitants of Talamanca and today about 5200 Bribri people live there have maintained their indigenous culture. The Bribri have their own language and a rich culture that has been in existence for thousands of years and remained relatively untouched by outside influences.
Today agriculture is the main economic activity of the Bribri. They farm a wide range of some 120 different crops for food, to use as building materials, for medicine, and commercial trading. Among themselves the Bribri use a bartering system, in which the women barter with their neighbours. The Bribri tend to have poor education and healthcare because of their isolation in the forests, but their are self sufficient in both crops and livestock.
One small tribe of the Bribri, the Kekoldi, only has about 200 people. The Kekoldi farm iguanas in order to keep up the iguana population, which was in danger of being over hunted. The iguanas are farmed for their eggs which are hatched, then when the iguanas reach 5 years old, they are released into the forest.
In times gone by, many Bribri were employed on banana plantations, and Protestant missionaries converted many to the faith. Today they can earn money by selling cacao beans grown in the rain forests to American companies. And some companies in the coffee industry are becoming interested in fair trade with the indians for forest grown beans.
Indigenous Indians in Panama