This review article focuses on common lower respiratory infections (LRIs) in indigenous populations in both developed and developing countries, where data is available. Indigenous populations across the world share some commonalities including poorer health and socio-economic disadvantage compared with their non-indigenous counterparts. Generally, acute and chronic respiratory infections are more frequent and more severe in both indigenous children and adults, often resulting in substantial consequences including higher rates of bronchiectasis and poorer outcomes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Risk factors for the development of respiratory infections require recognition and action. These risk factors include but are not limited to socio-economic factors (e.g. education, household crowding and nutrition), environmental factors (e.g. smoke exposure and poor access to health care) and biological factors. Risk mitigation strategies should be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner and targeted to educate both individuals and communities at risk. Improving the morbidity and mortality of respiratory infections in indigenous people requires provision of best practice care and awareness of the scope of the problem by healthcare practitioners, governing bodies and policy makers.