The Tri-national Program region is home to diverse ethnic groups, rural communities (“campesinos”) and indigenous communities representing various linguistic groups that are also found in other areas of the Amazon.  Every group is characterized by its worldview, which is in turn defined by myths about its origins and built upon by cultural traditions that are cyclically reproduced through ritual relationships with its natural surroundings and societal workings.  The following major indigenous groups are found on different sides of the border:


The ancestral territory of the Siona people was located near the Putumayo, Lagartococha, Zábalo, Cuyabeno, Aguarico, Napo and Cocaya rivers.  Their current distribution is found as much in Ecuador (in the province of Sucumbíos and the cantons of Putumayo and Shushufindi) as in Colombia.

Kichwa (Inganos, Naporuna)

The Kichwa of the Amazon are the result of a process of ethno-genesis, which occurred in the context of displacement and large-scale epidemics generated by the rubber boom and marriages among survivors of different Amazonian groups and also with Andean Quechuas. 


The Cofán’s territory is in both Colombia and Ecuador. Their population is estimated to be between 700 and 1,000 people, a majority in the province of Sucumbios, Ecuador.


The Shuar have a population of 40,000 people whose territories are located in the Ecuadorian provinces of Napo, Pastaza, Zamora Chinchipe, Sucumbíos and Morona Santiago. 

Murui (Huitoto, “People of the West”)

The Murui, also called Huitoto or “people of the West”, are an indigenous community that was hit hard by the rubber boom, which affected about 20,000 individuals in 1910 and 1,200 in the 1980’s.


The Secoya people are part of the same linguistic family, Tukano, as the Siona and Coreguaje, among other groups. Their ancestral area (Aguarico River and the Napo and Putumayo sections of the river) roughly coincides with their current territory, which they are believed to have inhabited for at least 1,500 years.