The Embera and the Wounan

The Embera and the Wounan are part of the ethnic indigenous peoples of Panama that are often thought to inhabit only the Darien province. Due to historical circumstances, traditional borders and boundaries have disappeared and these two distinct cultures have migrated and moved to different areas within Panama and Colombia.

Both groups speak different dialects and are descendants of the Chocoe Indians. Presently, those who speak such dialects are from the bordering region between Colombia and Ecuador, right up till the Panama Canal. Some anthropologist consider that ancestors of Chocoe Indians emigrated from the Amazon region. Some genetic and linguistic data suggest that it is more likely they are descendants from peoples established in the region much before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.

Since the colonial era, the Embera and Wounan, have been displaced towards the west of the isthmus filling spaces in the Darien province that were once inhabited by another ethnic indigenous group, the Kuna Yala.

Regardless of why these peoples have moved, the Embera and the Wounan have join together in many instances in order to simply survive. Their languages are different as well as their customs, and they realize that for their culture to survive there must be continuous adaptations and development.

Other ethnic groups that exist today in Panama are the Ngobe Bugle and Teribe  from the Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro provinces which borders with Costa Rica.