The yanomami are a people of hunters/farmers who live in the northern Amazonian region - on both sides of the border separating Brazil and Venezuela.
They live in approx. 300 village societies spread over 190.000 km2 of nearly inaccessible territory (about the same size as Belgium). With a population of 12.000 in Venezuela and nearly 10.000 in Brazil, the yanomami are the largest indian group in South America which still lives mainly in a traditional manner.
Independent local communities
The yanomami speak four distinct languages within one language family. Their villages are normally made up of one large common house - most often circular, but in some areas may be rectangular. Each local community consists of 30-200 people who are both politically and economically independent of other communities. There is no recognized leadership above that of village leader. At the same time, all local communities establish links with other communities through feasts, ceremonies, gift exchange and marriage partners. In this way, a complex network is built up which stretches across the entire yanomami territory.