The Naso (Teribe)
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The Naso (Teribe)

Guardians of the forest

Guardians of the forest

The Naso is also known as Teribe, which means “river of the Grandmother”. They inhabit the mountainous jungle region of north-western Panama for many centuries, however, upon the arrival of the Spanish in the 17th century, their community was decimated. Today, they live along the Teribe River in the La Amistad International Park.


  • Region is North America

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Medium

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers



The Naso live primarily off subsistence agriculture. They cultivate plantains, yucca, citrus fruits, cacao, and other vegetables. They also raise pigs and chickens and usually sell handicrafts in local markets.


Traditional homes are built on stilts from the Jira, a type of palm, and roofs are thatched with Palenquilla, another variety of palm. Modern homes have wooden planks as walls and floors and corrugated zinc roofs.


Social Structure

The Naso have the only remaining monarchy in the Western Hemisphere. Naso’s King receives the community's allegiance. The King rules with the help of his “Consejo”, the board of advisers formed by representatives elected by the community. The Naso can switch kings if they do not like the one ruling; however, the replacement has to be part of the royal family.


Some Naso communities adhere to Roman Catholicism, but most follow the Seventh-day Adventist Church. God is Sibö, the supreme God and creator.


The traditional dress can be seen during ceremonies and other cultural representations. Women's traditional clothing is very colourful and has long puffy blouses with full skirts. Braided hair and necklaces of beads are the traditional jewellery that women and girls wear. Men’s traditional dress is less ornate and consists of a white collarless shirt with sleeves and dark trousers.


The traditional language is Teribe, spoken by very few people. They all speak Spanish, but there have been some efforts to reintroduce the traditional language to save their heritage.


Nasos are excellent weavers, their designs are colourful, and the embroideries usually have flower designs.


The Naso celebrate the Nation's national holidays, like Separation Day (November 3rd), which celebrates the independence of Panama from Colombia.

Generally, Christian holidays are significant for the communities and planned long before the date.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Today, the Naso are forced to leave their land to seek out jobs in urban areas. Multiple hydroelectric projects, permitted by the Panamanian government, are threatening the Naso communities and destroying the natural resources on their land.

Furthermore, the Naso still do not have “comarca”, which is the reservation status for their land.

La Amistad Biosphere Reserve is a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. It contains Central America's largest intact tropical rain forest rich in flora and fauna.

Panama landscape

King naso, Reynaldo Alexis Santana.

Naso people
"Sieyic - Panama" by Rita Willaert is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0



Cabin in the jungle