Nomad

Nomad Traveler of Nature

A nomad (Middle French: nomade "people without fixed habitation")[1][dubious ] is a member of a community of people without fixed habitation who regularly move to and from the same areas, including nomadic hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads (owning livestock), and tinker or trader nomads.[2][3]As of 1995, there were an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world.[4]

Nomadic hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game, is by far the oldest human subsistence method. [5] Pastoralists raise herds, driving them, or moving with them, in patterns that normally avoid depleting pastures beyond their ability to recover.[citation needed]

Nomadism is also a lifestyle adapted to infertile regions such as steppe, tundra, or ice and sand, where mobility is the most efficient strategy for exploiting scarce resources. For example, many groups in the tundra are reindeer herders and are semi-nomadic, following forage for their animals.

Sometimes also described as "nomadic" are the various itinerant populations who move about in densely populated areas living not on natural resources, but by offering services (craft or trade) to the resident population. These groups are known as "peripatetic nomads".[6][7]

Common characteristics

Romani mother and child
Nomads on the Changtang, Ladakh
Rider in Mongolia, 2012. While nomadic life is less common in modern times, the horse remains a national symbol in Mongolia.
A woman from the Afshar clan on the edge of the Khabr National Park in southeastern Iran

A nomad is a person with no settled home, moving from place to place as a way of obtaining food, finding pasture for livestock, or otherwise making a living. The word "nomad" comes ultimately from the classical Greek word νομάς (nomás, "roaming, wandering, especially to find pasture"), from Ancient Greek νομός (nomós, "pasture"). Most nomadic groups follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements. Nomadic peoples traditionally travel by animal or canoe or on foot. Today, some nomads travel by motor vehicle. Most[quantify] nomads live in tents or other portable shelters.

Nomads keep moving for different reasons. Nomadic foragers move in search of game, edible plants, and water. Australian Aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, for example, traditionally move from camp to camp to hunt and gather wild plants. Some tribes of the Americas followed this way of life. Pastoral nomads make their living raising livestock such as camels, cattle, goats, horses, sheep or yaks; the Gaddi tribe of Himachal Pradesh in India is one such tribe. These nomads travel to find more camels, goats and sheep[citation needed] through the deserts of Arabia and northern Africa. The Fulani and their cattle travel through the grasslands of Niger in western Africa. Some nomadic peoples, especially herders, may also move to raid settled communities or to avoid enemies. Nomadic craftworkers and merchants travel to find and serve customers. They include the Lohar blacksmiths of India, the Romani traders, and the Irish Travellers.

Most nomads travel in groups of families, bands or tribes. These groups are based on kinship and marriage ties or on formal agreements of cooperation. A council of adult males makes most of the decisions, though some tribes have chiefs.

In the case of Mongolian nomads, a family moves twice a year. These two movements generally occur during the summer and winter. The winter destination is usually located near mountains in a valley and most families already have fixed winter locations. Their winter locations have shelter for animals and are not used by other families while they are out. In the summer they move to a more open area that the animals can graze. Most nomads usually move in the same region and don't travel very far to a totally different region. Since they usually circle around a large area, communities form and families generally know where the other ones are. Often, families do not have the resources to move from one province to another unless they are moving out of the area permanently. A family can move on its own or with others; if it moves alone, they are usually no more than a couple of kilometers from each other. Nowadays there are no tribes and decisions are made among family members, although elders consult with each other on usual matters. The geographical closeness of families is usually for mutual support. Pastoral nomad societies usually do not have large population. One such society, the Mongols, gave rise to the largest land empire in history. The Mongols originally consisted of loosely organized nomadic tribes in Mongolia, Manchuria, and Siberia. In the late 12th century, Genghis Khan united them and other nomadic tribes to found the Mongol Empire, which eventually stretched the length of Asia.

The nomadic way of life has become increasingly rare. Many governments dislike nomads because it is difficult to control their movement and to obtain taxes from them. Nomadic migration across international boundaries confuses capital-city bureaucrats. Many countries have converted pastures into cropland and forced nomadic peoples into permanent settlements.

Although (or because) "[t]he sedentary man envies the nomadic existence, the quest for green pastures [...]"[8] sedentarist prejudice against nomads, "shiftless" "gypsies", "rootless cosmopolitans", "primitive" hunter-gatherers, refugees and urban homeless street-people persists.