The semi nomadic Mbuti and Efe were probably the first inhabitants of the region, but when they arrived is unknown. While their way of life today is similar to what it was originally, these Pygmies have not been able to live inside the forest independently of other ethnic groups and had to colonize the forest at the same time as groups practicing shifting agriculture. The latter are believed to have come to the region 2,000-3,000 years ago.
At present, the number of Pygmies in the Landscape is estimated at 30,000. They continue to lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but still depend heavily on the Bantu populations. Among the forest farmers, the main ethnic groups are the Bila, Ndaka, Lese, Mbo and Mamvu. They depend on shifting agriculture, supplemented by fishing and hunting.
The Ngwana arrived in the Landscape with the Arab slave trade in the 19th century. During the colonial era, new populations were added. The most numerous are the Nande, from the mountains to the east of the landscape, and the Budu, from densely populated regions to the north and west. Many of the new-comers came to rejoin members of their family or clan. Today, all the centers where several families live contain several ethnic groups. The population of Epulu, with 2,000 inhabitants, comprises over 30 different ethnic groups.