The People of the Tundra Region

Updated April 17, 2017

The term tundra refers to a biome with few trees due to the low temperatures and short growing seasons. There are three types of tundra that are dictated by their geographical location: Arctic tundra, alpine tundra and Antarctic tundra. The extreme temperatures and sparse vegetation affect the types of animals that can survive in the tundra. Because of the harsh climate and limited food sources, the way of life for the people of the tundra is much different than in other regions.


By necessity, people that live in the tundra are not vegetarians as there are very few vegetarian foods available locally. Their diet consists mainly of reindeer, seals, walrus and other animals as well as fish. Their bodies have adapted to digest raw meat as cooking is difficult in the frigid temperatures. The diet in this region consists of a large amount of fat or blubber to help keep them warm. Milk produced by the reindeer is also used as sustenance.


Animal skins are the materials of choice for clothing in the tundra. Undergarments made of leather add a layer of insulation and outer clothing made of fur helps keep the people warm. Hoods are always worn over the head to prevent heat loss through the top of the head and gloves protect their fingers from developing frostbite. Thick, insulated boots, also made of animal skins, protect their toes from frostbite as well. Men and women typically wear the same types of clothing for practicality and warmth.


Without trees, building materials are scarce in this region, so most people in the tundra have resorted to using blocks of tightly packed snow, which is a good insulator and is shaped into round houses called igloos in the winter months. In the summer, when the snow melts, these people often migrate to a different area and live in tent-like dwelling made of animal skins stretched over frames.


Getting around in the tundra is quite difficult without roads and access to fuel. Sleds made of animal bones and skins are crafted and pulled by sled dogs. These dogs have thick fur and are bred in the tundra to withstand the elements. When water travel is possible, the people of the tundra travel through the waterways in small kayaks, which are used for hunting, or larger boats known as umiyaks, which are used for transporting people and supplies.

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About the Author

Jack Powell has been writing professionally since 2008. He graduated from Red River College with a degree in creative communications and currently writes for a variety of local publications.