- Last Updated on 19 July 2013
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Nobody exactly knows when they arrived at Panama coming from South America. As from 16th century the Kuna Indians had already occupied
the 360 islands – today known as San Blas archipelago. Moving towards the Caribbean coast, they met hostile Indian tribes and Spanish conquerors. Nowadays the Kuna are mainly living on the San Blas islands, but also in the jungle of Chucunaque and Bayano. For centuries the people of the Kuna have been fighting for keeping alive its culture and traditions. During the colonial era they have partly united with the European corsairs and pirates. They successfully fought against the Spanish who swore to eliminate them all. After the end of the Spanish empire they rooted in the regions of today’s Darién, San Blas in Panama and the west of Colombia. In the late 19th century they were legally recognized. Panama – at that time a Colombian province – declared its independency in the year 1903 and ignored these agreements. Although most of the Kuna-population was living on the Panamanian side of the frontier, the Panamanian authorities tried to “civilize“ the Kuna. The today’s Panamanian authorities only rarely come into conflicts with the Kuna government; particularly as three special "comarcas" (autonomous territories) were established for the Kuna.