top of page

Living On The Water For Centuries: Peoples Of Boats And Stilts

Across the globe, from Malaysia to Benin to Peru, some peoples have lived on the water, with only marginal connection to land, for centuries. At home on boats, handmade mats of reeds, or houses raised above the water on stilts, they have bonded with sea and lake in unique ways. Beyond those profiled here, there are many other floating and stilted villages around the world, All of them with long histories of resilience and all facing new challenges from climate and economic changes.


Life of the Bajau: What It’s Like to Live in the Middle of the Ocean -The stateless Bajau people have literally lived at sea for over 1,000 years. While some Bajau live in stilted houses along the coast, others spend their entire lives on tiny boats. 60 Minutes Australia paid a video visit to such a group. Watch it here.

The Floating Homes of Lake Titicaca - Invented more than 500 years ago by the indigenous Uros people of Peru as protection against attacks from the Incas, these floating human-made islands are an engineering marvel. Check out this 2-minute video about the islands also.
Africa's Largest Floating Village Has a Story to Tell - Founded in the 17th century by people looking for safety during the slave trade, 400 years later, Ganvié has a population of some 30,000 people. Over generations the residents have created a unique lifestyle centered around the water and fishing. A bit more about the village can be found here.
Floating Villages of Inle Lake - The local Intha people in Myanmar have developed a fascinating culture and lifestyle that revolves around the water. Living on the lake in stilt houses, they grow food in floating gardens. Take a video tour of the villages here.
The Clan Jetties Of Penang: George Town’s Historic Floating Villages - The Clan Jetties were established in the 19th century as Chinese immigrants arrived on Penang, seeking housing in the fast-growing Malaysian port city. Many Chinese arrivals worked as dock workers and boat operators on local sampans. To stay close to their work by the waterfront, and to help set up local Chinese communities, the ramshackle Clan Jetties were established over the water. They are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. This drone video provides an aerial view of the jetties.
Amsterdam's 2900 Houseboats - Living on the water is not limited to those with modest means. In Amsterdam, houseboats are attractive to many upscale residents. And, beyond the houseboats, new upmarket housing developments feature floating houses.


Join Cuppa Go Readers Around the World


It's Free And We Never Spam

bottom of page