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People of Myanmar, Population and Settlement

Arakanese, Indian Muslims, Kachin, people of Myanmar, Chinese border

More than two-thirds of the people of Myanmar are Burman, ethnically akin to the Tibetans and the Chinese. In addition, several native minorities with their own languages and cultures inhabit the country. The most important of these groups are the Karen and the Shan, each of which comprises less than 10 percent of the population. There are also several smaller groups such as the Arakanese (Rakhine), Mon, Chin, and Kachin, as well as numerous even smaller minorities. The Karen are found primarily in delta villages and along the Thailand border, the Shan throughout the vast Shan Plateau, the Mon along the Tenasserim coast (this group is largely assimilated within the Burman majority), the Arakanese along the Arakan coast next to Bangladesh, the Chin on the western border with India, the Kachin on the northern border with China, and many of the smaller groups along the Chinese border intermingled with the Shan. Large Chinese and Indian minorities dominated the urban population during the British rule of Myanmar (1826-1948); however, many of the Chinese have since assimilated as Sino-Burmans and most of the Indians have emigrated, though many Indian Muslims remain in their traditional homeland on the Arakan coast.

The borderlands in which most of the ethnic minorities live had been separately administered under British rule. Having retained many of their hereditary traditions under British rule, these groups have been restless under Burman rule in the independent Union of Myanmar. Since 1948 the Karen have been in armed rebellion, accompanied by the Kachin beginning in the 1950s and by periodic outbursts from a variety of Shan political groups.

Article key phrases:

Arakanese, Indian Muslims, Kachin, people of Myanmar, Chinese border, Tibetans, western border, borderlands, northern border, British rule, Rakhine, urban population, Indians, ethnic minorities, Bangladesh, Karen, thirds, cultures, percent, China, languages, country, addition


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