Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

February 26, 2015. Paliyans Learn to be Guides
In early January, the forest department in Tamil Nadu started training 16 young Paliyan men to work as guides for a new ecotourism trekking venture. (Full story)

February 26, 2015. Inuit Experiences of Historical Traumas [journal article review]
The concept of historical trauma, sometimes used to describe societies that have suffered from the stresses of serious traumatic events, might be an appropriate key to understanding recent Inuit experiences. (Full story)

February 19, 2015. Coltan Mining Fosters Violence
El Universal, a major Venezuelan newspaper, published a feature last week on the reasons for the recent disruptions and threats to the Piaroa people south of the Orinoco River. (Full story)

February 19, 2015. Yanadi Economic Tragedies and Successes
The economic situations of two separate groups of Yanadi were described in starkly differing terms last week, as one community has been suffering extreme privation while the other is beginning to prosper. (Full story)

February 12, 2015. Human Trafficking in Rural Thailand
Education is the best way to prevent child trafficking in Rural Thailand, argues Mickey Choothesa, the founder of the anti-trafficking group Children of Southeast Asia (COSA). (Full story)

February 12, 2015. Donald Kraybill to Retire
Donald Kraybill, famed expert on the Amish, announced last week that he will retire as of the end of June from his positions at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (Full story)

February 5, 2015. Publicity for Lepcha Cardamom Crops
India has three national holidays, one of which, Republic Day, is celebrated every year to mark the date on which the national constitution came into effect, January 26, 1950. (Full story)

February 5, 2015. A French Polynesian Novel Portrays Tahitian Culture [journal article review]
A scholarly analysis of a 2004 French Polynesian novel suggests that there are different ways of understanding the history and culture of the Tahitians, especially in contrast to those of the French colonizers. (Full story)


For earlier articles, please visit the listing of older stories on the News and Reviews page.




Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives. This website serves to introduce these societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness. It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples, the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors that challenge their lifestyles.

Zapotec boyLISTS: A list of peaceful societies is never completely finished or accurate. However, social scientists have convincingly described at least 25 societies around the world in which there is very little internal violence or external warfare. Generalizations are difficult to make accurately, except that most of the time these peaceful societies successfully promote harmony, gentleness, and kindness toward others as much as they devalue conflict, aggressiveness, and violence.

DISCLAIMER: While scholars have clearly identified a small number of societies in which people rarely act aggressively, it must be emphasized that no stamp of approval is intended for the societies included in this website. None of them are utopias. They share many problems with the rest of humanity. That said, however, most of the time they interact in a highly pro-social manner and they successfully avoid both violence within their own societies and warfare with other peoples.

OTHER "PEACEFUL" SOCIETIES: Popular writers and casual observers have also described many other societies as “peaceful,” but often in a more general or romantic sense. This website focuses, instead, on societies where there is significant scholarly literature to support the claims of peacefulness, and where the evidence provided by those scholars appears to be quite convincing.

COMPARISONS: Part of the fascination of this scholarly literature is the way readers can compare the extent of peacefulness and violence in these societies. Their differing ways of developing social, psychological, ethical and religious structures that foster peacefulness should inspire—and challenge—anyone interested in the processes of peace building. This literature suggests several questions:

APPROACHES TO PEACEFULNESS: Most of the nonviolent peoples have a wide range of strategies for promoting interpersonal harmony, building mutual respect, and fostering toleration for individual differences. Many of them are masters at devaluing conflicts, minimizing and resolving them when they do occur, and preventing them from developing into violence. Many of these peaceful societies also devalue competition, self-focus, and other ego-centered social behaviors that they feel might lead to violence.

LITERATURE: While the literature about these societies is small in contrast to the vast number of works about violence and war, there are some notable, highly readable books about peaceful societies and some useful websites that describe a few of them. Most of the best literature, however, is available in books, journal articles, and essays contained in published volumes. A small number of the best journal articles and essays from books are included in the Archive of Articles on Peaceful Societies of this website. Three different encyclopedia articles describe peaceful societies and the literature about them (Dentan 2002; Fry 1999; Sponsel 1996).

ADDITIONS: Additions to the website, as well as news about the peaceful societies, are noted on the News and Reviews page.

Photo: Seven year old Zapotec boy eating a tortilla in the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, near the village of La Paz. D. P. Fry photo collection.




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