The Cuna Indians (or San Blas Indians) are a group of approximately 15,000 native Panamanian Indians who live on the San Blas Archipelago, a string of tiny islands which stretch along the Atlantic coast from the northern part of Colombia to within 100 miles of the Canal Zone. Most of these islands are but a few miles from the mainland where many of the Indians have small plantations consisting mostly of coconut trees which they visit daily. Until a century or two ago the Indians lived on the mainland, but their death rate was very high, possibly because of malaria. They therefore moved to the salubrious, windblown islands which are now heavily populated.
The Indians are short, stocky, dark people, four and one-half to five feet tall, with smooth, jet black hair, round faces, high cheek bones, broad noses, large, almost barrel-shaped chests, and short extremities.