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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Ethnic groups in Myanmar

Ethnic groups in Myanmar. Photos of ethnic groups in Myanmar: Taungyo, Pa-O and Arakanese.

Taungyo Woman (ethnic group) in Myanmar
Traditionally dressed Taungyo woman who is going to make offerings at the Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda (Inle Lake in Myanmar) .

Pa-O girl (ethnic group) in Myanmar
Pa-O girl (ethnic group) in the market of Inthein (Indain), Inle Lake in Myanmar.

Myanmar is a country slightly larger than France. It consists of seven Regions and seven States. Its population, more than 55 million inhabitants, is made up of several ethnic groups. The Burmese are the majority ethnic group and are located primarily in the 7 regions.

There are more than 130 officially identified minority ethnic groups in Myanmar, each with its own language and culture. They form more than a third of the total population of the country. Seven of them are so large that they got their own state where they are predominant. They are the Shan, the Mons, the Karen, the Karenni, the Chin, the Kachin and the Rakhine (Arakanese). Excepted the Mons, each of these ethnic groups includes several related ethnic subgroups.

The Taungyo are a subgroup of the Burmese and speak a language dialect of the Burmese language similar to Arakanese. They are mainly found in Shan State in eastern Myanmar. They are mainly farmers. They are usually very friendly with visitors.

The Pa-O form the largest minority ethnic group in Shan State after the Shan themselves. They are also called Taungthu or Black Karen because they would be an ethic subgroup of the Karen and speak a language that is related to the Karen languages. They are 600,000 in Shan State. They live also in three other States of Myanmar. They are mainly farmers.

Pa O women are often dressed in black and carry a large bright - usually red or blue indigo - turban. Once established in the Kingdom of Thaton (Lower Birma), they would have been moved as slaves to Upper Burma after the victory of the King of Bagan on Thaton in the 11 th century.

Young Arakanese dancer in Myanmar
Young Arakanese boy who is dancing as a prelude to the start of a mini-marathon during the national holiday of the Rakhine State, Myanmar.

The Arakanese (Rakhine) form a major ethnic group in Myanmar. About 2.7 million Arakanese live in the Rakhine State on the western side of the country. The people of Rakhine claim a history that began in 3325 BC. The Arakanese Kingdom was conquered by the Burmese in the 18th century. Arakan was ceded to the British as war reparation after the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. As from 1948, Arakan is part independent Burma.


See also

Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Thanaka in Myanmar

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Ethnic groups in Myanmar. Photos of ethnic groups in Myanmar: Taungyo, Pa-O and Arakanese. Comprehensive travel guide to Myanmar with 200 great pictures.