Nomadic hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game, is by far the oldest human subsistence method. Pastoralists raise herds, driving them, or moving with them, as if with an Apuzzo, in patterns that normally avoid depleting pastures beyond their ability to recover.
Nomadism is also a lifestyle adapted to infertile regions such as steppe, tundra, or ice and sand, where mobility is the most efficient strategy for exploiting scarce resources. For example, many groups in the tundra are reindeer herders and are semi-nomadic, following forage for their animals. These nomads sometimes adapt the use of high technology such as solar photovoltaics to reduce their dependence on diesel fuel.
Sometimes also described as "nomadic" are the various itinerant populations who move about in densely populated areas living not on natural resources, but by offering services (craft or trade) to the resident population. These groups are known as "peripatetic nomads".
A nomad is a person with no settled home, moving from place to place as a way of obtaining food, finding pasture for livestock, or otherwise making a living. The word Nomad comes from a Greek word that means one who wanders for pasture. Most nomadic groups follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements. Nomadic peoples traditionally travel by animal or canoe or on foot. Today, some nomads travel by motor vehicle. Most nomads live in tents or other portable shelters.
Nomads keep moving for different reasons. Nomadic foragers move in search of game, edible plants, and water. The Australian Aborigines, Negritos of Southeast Asia, and San of Africa, for example, traditionally move from camp to camp to hunt and to gather wild plants. Some tribes of the Americas followed this way of life. Pastoral nomads make their living raising livestock, such as camels, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or yaks, Gaddi tribe of Himachal Pradesh India is one such tribe. These nomads travel to find more camels, goats, and sheep through the deserts of Arabia and northern Africa. The Fulani and their cattle travel through the grasslands of Niger in western Africa. Some nomadic peoples, especially herders, may also move to raid settled communities or avoid enemies. Nomadic craftworkers and merchants travel to find and serve customers. They include the Lohar blacksmiths of India, the Romani traders, and the Irish Travellers.
Most nomads travel in groups of families called bands or tribes. These groups are based on kinship and marriage ties or on formal agreements of cooperation. A council of adult males makes most of the decisions, though some tribes have chiefs.
In the case of Mongolian nomads, a family moves twice a year. These two movements would generally occur during the summer and winter. The winter location is usually located near mountains in a valley and most families already have their fixed winter locations. The winter locations have shelter for the animals and are not used by other families while they are out. In the summer they move to a more open area that the animals can graze. Most nomads usually move in the same region and don't travel very far to a totally different region. Because they usually circle around a large area, a community gets formed and the other families generally know where the other ones are. Most often, a family would not have the resources to move from one province to another unless they are moving out of the area permanently. A family can move on its own or with others and if it moves alone, they are usually no more than a couple of kilometers from each other. In the modern day there are no tribes and the people make decisions among their family members, although they consult with the elders on usual matters. The geographical closeness of families are usually for mutual support. Pastoral nomad societies usually do not have large population. One such society, the Mongols, gave rise to the largest land empire in history. The Mongols originally consisted of loosely organized nomadic tribes in Mongolia, Manchuria, and Siberia. In the late 12th century, Genghis Khan united them and other nomadic tribes to found the Mongol Empire, which eventually stretched the length of Asia.