Once society reached the point where a program like Google Earth was a run-of-the-mill reality, it started to become a bit unimaginable that whole tribes of Paleolithic people were out there avoiding modern civilization like the plague, all but forgotten by those of us living in our own self-styled (albeit concrete) jungles. But that's exactly the case. While it's unlikely there are really any groups of people we're still entirely unaware of, there are definitely some who actively shun our invitations to put on some pants and join the rat race.
And sometimes it seems like the few remaining isolated tribes have the right idea after all. They seem to think so, that's for sure, because they defend their isolation with a vehemence that defies all but the most determined visitors. Even the rare party-crashers who do manage to break into the isolated world often throw their hands in the air, give up and go home.
But one isolated group in particular seems to cherish their seclusion in an exceptionally fierce fashion: people known to us as the Sentinelese. They've been snubbing their noses -- and shooting arrows -- at anyone who's attempted to get within bowshot of their tiny island home for several hundred years. Located in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Islands, North Sentinel Island is technically part of the Republic of India. This is more for the sake of the Indian government, however, as the stone monument it plunked down declaring sovereignty is patently meaningless to 100 percent of the island's inhabitants. The Sentinelese language is not only completely incomprehensible to us, it's also startlingly different from those of other tribes on nearby islands, suggesting the Sentinelese have been the Mr. Wilsons of the neighborhood for many thousands of years -- maybe as long as 60,000 all told.
So what makes them so unsociable? It's hard to say, but a good guess would be that bad things happen when explorers "discover" you. The Sentinelese may have just caught on to this more quickly than most. We're so clueless about their culture and how they live, we don't even know what they call themselves. Protected both by their own warriors, and a nearly-impossible to navigate ring of coral reef, the Sentinelese have so far fought fiercely to hold onto their small piece of the pie.
To find out more about other isolated tribes that still survive in dwindling numbers today, check out Are there undiscovered people? But for more about the astonishing Sentinelese, row on over to the next page.