- Last Updated on 19 July 2013
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An estimated population of 15.000 people - the Emberá - are living in the Darien rain forest of Panamá and some further districts along
the rivers Gatun and Chagre. Together with the Wounaan, this tribe was formerly known as Choco, as they originate from the Choco-province Columbia and emigrated in the late 18th century. The Embera and Wounaan both originate from a culturally similar catchment area. There are about 2.600 Wounaan Indians who are also living in the Darien rain forest. In the year 1983 the Panamanian government accepted the Comarca Emberá-Drua – a semi-autonomous indigenous territory for the Emberá and Wounaan. This area comprises the Darien National Park and the biosphere reserve. In former times the Emberá-Wounaan were known as Chocó. They speak both languages being included in the Chocos’ family language. These tribes are living in harmony with their environment along the banks of numerous rivers – far away from any comfort and the problems of civilisation. They have established a day-by-day existence almost without economic pressure, which they enjoy in a proud, peaceful, honest, but suspicious way towards strangers. Ignoring the authorities’ laws and regulations they have been developing their own laws for centuries.