The confinement of indigenous populations to restricted areas of land, usually infertile, is the ultimate form of legalized segregation and allows discrimination full reign. Conditions on reservations are usually sub-standard. Government allocations for the up-keep of reservations are notoriously low and since the land tends to be infertile the opportunities for the improvement of life on reservations are very limited. Prices given for produce may be unfair. Payment for labour contracted on reservations is usually low. The result is poor housing and a low general standard of living, despondency, and (as reported in the USA) resort to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and suicide. Adequate educational facilities are not available. The situation perpetuates discrimination and the inhabitants of reservations may find it difficult to obtain work elsewhere or to become integrated into another society.
Reservations occur most notably in the USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Elsewhere indigenous populations have been similarly dispossessed but not confined to a given area, so that there is theoretically more opportunity for them to become integrated into society.