Indigenous peoples have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years. The proportion indigenous people is estimated to be about 10 percent of total population living in arctic areas. There are over 40 different ethnic groups living in the Arctic. Map with fact boxes on Indigenous peoples who are permanent participants at the Arctic Council.
Arctic indigenous peoples include for example Saami in circumpolar areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk and Chukchi in Russia, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit (Iñupiat) in Alaska, Inuit (Inuvialuit) in Canada and Inuit (Kalaallit) in Greenland. All of the above-mentioned countries except Iceland have indigenous peoples living within their Arctic territory. Official statistics do not necessarily recognize indigenous populations separately, although differences occur. The number of indigenous people is not accurate because of the definition of indigenousness. See the map Demography of indigenous peoples of the Arctic based on linguistic groups.
There is a great variation of cultural, historical and economical backgrounds among the groups. However, a common feature for most of the indigenous communities in the Arctic is that they have already undergone substantial changes due to the globalization of the western way of life, state policies, modern transport and the introduction of mixed economy.
In general, indigenous people have a specific connection to land that they have inhabited. Other features, for example distinct language, culture and traditional livelihoods such as reindeer herding, fishing and hunting are characteristics of indigenous people in the Arctic. Industrialization, social change and environmental problems such as climate change, however, present threats to the continuity of these livelihoods and culture.
Recently, political organization of indigenous peoples has led to international recognition and clarification of human and political rights concerning indigenous populations. Rights to land and natural resources are an important part of the culture and survival of indigenous peoples in the Arctic.