1. Classification A: Based on Ethnicity
  2. Group I: Negritos
  3. Group II: The Mongoloid
  4. Group III: Mediterranean (Dravidians)
  5. Classification B: Based on Location
  6. Zone 1: Northern and North-Eastern
  7. Himachal Pradesh
  8. Uttar Pradesh
  9. Zone II: Central
  10. Bihar
  11. Rajasthan
  12. Gujarat and Maharashtra
  13. Madhya Pradesh
  14. West Bengal
  15. Orissa
  16. Zone III: South-Western
  17. Zone IV: Scattered Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar
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First See this Diagram
classification Indian Tribes

Classification A: Based on Ethnicity

Group I: Negritos

  • are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of the Indian peninsula who were unable to defend themselves and were gradually forced to recede before the invading hordes of Indo-Aryans, Mongoloids, etc. coming from the North-West and North-East.
  • These tribes were not only superior to them in numerical strength but also in mechanical equipment.
  • These tribals took shelter in the mountains and thick forests where a considerable number of them are still found and have been estimated to be about ten million.
  • Those who were left behind in the plains gradually disappeared either by absorption or by acculturation.
  • Some tracts of them are still found among the tribals of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands known as the Onne, the Great Andamanese, the Sentinelese and the Jarwas
  • also in Kerala among the Kadars, the Irulars and the Paniyans.

identifying features

  • are dark skin, curly hair, broad nose and medium height.

Group II: The Mongoloid

  • represented by the tribal people of sub- Himalayan region.
  • They may be divided into two categories
Mongoloid Sub-categories represented by the tribes living in
  1. Palaeo Mongoloids
Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur.
  1. Tibeto -Mongoloids
  • Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • They are believed to have migrated from Tibet.
  • They have typical eyes and facial features. They speak Mon-Khmer and Tibeto-Burmese dialects.

Group III: Mediterranean (Dravidians)

  • They form bulk of the tribal population and are generally known as the Dravidians.
  • Dravidian is, however, the name of the language group spoken by these people and has no ethnic significance.


  • The tribes believed to be belonging to the Dravidian race are found in the Chhotanagpur Plateau, Rajmahal Hills region, Aravalli ranges, Central Vindhyachal, Deccan Plateau region and Nilgiri Hills.
  • Dravidian language still survives not only in Southern India where Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada are its leading representatives, but also in Central India where its traces are found in the dialects spoken by the Oraons, Gonds, Mundas, Malers, Khonds and other tribes.
  • The Dravidians are presumed to be of two stocks,
Dravid Tribes
Dravidian Sub-Categories Characteristics
  • speak a dialect called Mundari
  • examples: Mundas, Santhals, Oraons and other tribes inhabiting Chhotanagpur Plateau region
Dravidian proper
  • Speak dailects of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada
  • Gonds, Kondhs, and other tribes found in Central Vindhyachal and the Deccan Plateau regions.

Classification B: Based on Location

  • Tribal population of India is spread all over the country. However, in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa and Pondicherry there exist very little tribal population.
  • The rest of the states and union territories possess fairly good number of tribal population
  • Madhya Pradesh registers the largest number of tribes (73) followed by Arunachal Pradesh (62), Orissa (56), Maharashtra (52), Andhra Pradesh (43).
  • In India there is almost a continuous belt of high tribal concentration starting from the Western coast – from Thane district in Maharashtra passing through Surat and Dang districts in Gujarat to Mayurbhanj in Orissa on the Eastern coast and Bihar.
  • The chief concentration is in Dhulia in Maharashtra; West Nimar, Betul, Chhindwara, Seeni, Mandla, Shandol and Sarguja in Madhya Pradesh; and Ranchi, Santhal Parganas_ and Singhbhum district in Bihar.
  • Another long range of tribal belt is found in the North-East spreading over Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizo Hills, United Mikir and North Cachar Hills of Assam and hilly regions of Manipur and Tripura.
  • These belts are also linked up by a chain of pockets of tribal concentration at Taluk or sub-divisional levels.
  • Tribal concentrations are also found in Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh, Korapur, Bauch- Khandenals, and Agency tracts of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh which are linked up with the Central belt by a chain of small pockets of tribal concentration.
  • The scheduled tribes live in exclusive pockets of the territory, upon which they have traditional ownership rights.

Zone 1: Northern and North-Eastern

In the mountain valleys and other areas of North-East, Indian tribes largely belong to Mongolian social stock. The tribal people are distributed all over the sub-Himalayan region and the mountain valleys in the North-East from Simla in the West to the Lushai hills and the Mishmi track in the East which merge imperceptibly with those of Burma in the South-East. It covers Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram, Eastern Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tarai areas of Uttar Pradesh and the mountaineous West Bengal.

North East tribe

  • paro-Barokachari is numerically the strongest tribe in Assam then comes Miri and Mizo.
  • The hill districts, i.e., Mikir Hills and North Cachar Hills are predominantly inhabited by scheduled tribes.
  • In the plains Goalpara, Lakhimpur, Darrang and Kamrup districts possess fairly large number of scheduled tribes.
  • In Manipur, the highest distribution of scheduled tribes is found in Manipur west districts followed by Manipur east districts. The third highest position goes to Manipur south districts. North Manipur contains the lowest number of scheduled tribe population..
  • The major tribes inhabiting the region are Anal, Kabui, Gangte, Zarao, Moyan-Mansang, etc. In Meghalaya the most important tribes are the Khasis, Garos and Jaintias. Mizos, Pawis_and Lakhers are of importance in Mizoram.
  • Nagaland: A tribal state, inhabited by Nagas

Himachal Pradesh

Following tribes are important
  1. Gaddi
reside exclusively on the snowy range which divides Chamba from Kangra
  1. Kinner
settled in the frontier district of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh.
  1. Pangwal
the Pangi region of the Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh
  1. Lahuli
Lahul-Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh

  • declared scheduled areas are hills, Tarai Bhabar, and Southern U.P. The hill zone is represented by the Jaunsari, Bhotia, and Raji tribes.
  • Bhotias are a late introduction in the scheduled tribes following the set back they suffered after Indo-China war.
  • The eastern and northern parts of Tarai Bhabar tract are inhabited by Tharu and Buxa tribes.

Zone II: Central

  • In the Chhotanagpur Plateau, along the dividing line between peninsular India and Indo-Gangetic basin, live many tribal communities like the Bhumij, Gond, Ho, Oraon, Munda, Santhal, Bhil, etc.
  • They belong to Proto-Australoid group.
  • This group occupy the mountain belt between Narbada and the Godavari – the central barrier that divides the north from the Peninsular India has provided a shelter for these tribes from very ancient times.
  • It includes West Bengal, Southern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra. This region further extends to the Santhal Pargana (Bihar) in the east, Hyderabad in the South and Rajasthan and Gujarat with a strong Bhil population in the West.


  • Oraon,  Munda, Chero, Parchaiya, Santhal_and Asuras are very dominant.


  • Banjaras, Moghias and Sathiyas are important tribes of Rajasthan.
  • They mostly inhabit the Thar desert.

Gujarat and Maharashtra

  • Bhil is the most important tribe in Gujarat.
  • Anal, Chiru_and Konkanas_are important tribes inhabiting Maharashtra.
Madhya Pradesh
  1. Muria
The word Muria is used in Bastar for a tribesman. Murias reside in the Muria Hill and Abujhmar mountains.
  1. Dorla
a tribe of south Bastar in Madhya Pradesh. The word Dorla, appears to have been derived from the Telugu word Dora meaning Lord.
  1. Bhil

West Bengal and Orissa

West Bengal: Mala and Savara tribes. Now speaking of Odisha:

  • out ofthe 62 Scheduled tribes, Bhuiya, Baiga, Dharua, Gaaro, Ho, Koli, Lodha, etc. are more populous. The Baiga appears to be a branch of the great Bhuiya tribe of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Baiga means a sorcerer or medicine man.
  • The name Baiga also applies to anyone who serves as a village priest in the Central Provinces.

Zone III: South-Western

  • In the hills and converging line of the Western Ghats live the Chenchus, Irulas, Kadars, Ketas, Kurumbas, Jedas, etc. having Negrito, Caucasoid, and proto-Australoid features.
  • This group is chiefly concentrated in the southern-most parts of the Western Ghats stretching from Vindhyas to Cape Comorin.
  • From the fact that they occupy the marginal areas and also from the records in the oldest Tamil literature of the Sangam period, they appear to be one of the most ancient and primitive inhabitants of present day India.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamilnadu fall within this zone.
South Western Tribes
State Important tribes
AP Chenchus_and Lambadi
Karnataka Koragas, Kuruba
Kerala Koragas

Zone IV: Scattered Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar

There are various scattered tribal groups like the Andamanese and such other tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and other Union territories.
The aborigines of the Andaman Islands may be described as a race by themselves, and can be divided into two groups, i.e.,

  • Andamanese, the Onges and the Sentinelese.
  • This group is found in the Andaman group of Islands.
  • has an affinity with the Semangos and Sakais of Malaya, the Vedas of Sri Lanka and other Negrito groups of South-East Asia
  • It is believed that these aborigines migrated from the lower regions of Burma. On their arrival at these islands, they moved to different part of the islands and very likelyon account of the different types of physical environment they developed different traits.
Mongoloid inhabitants of Nicobar group of islands, i.e., the Shorn Pens and the Nicobarese.

Tribals of Andaman Nicobar

Jarawa confined to the western part of the south, middle and north Andamans. The Andamanese, who are extremely limited in number, live along the coastal areas.
Onge inhabit the little Andaman and Rutland island
Sentinelese are found in the Sentinel island.
Shorn Pens confined along the eastern and south-eastern coast of Great Nicobar island. They are also reported from the banks of Dagmar, Alexandra and Galathoa rivers respectively.
Nicobarese (Holchu) inhabiting these small islands are highly unevenly distributed and only in the two islands, the Car Nicobar and Chowra.

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