The Bamar are Myanmar’s majority ethnic group. They have traditionally controlled much of the country through political means, particularly the fertile central plains and Ayeyarwady valley. Originally migrants from southern China, the Bamar (or “Burmans” as they were known in colonial times) were a wet-rice farming people, Theravada Buddhist by religion, whose tonal, Tibeto-Burman tongue – Burmese – has long […]



The Mon have a long and proud history, even longer than the Bamar. The Mon state is centered on Mawlamyine in the southeast portion of Myanmar. Though mostly assimilated with the Bamar culture, the Mon continue to use their own language and have managed to retain their own state within the Union of Myanmar. As Buddhists, they have their own […]


Closely related to the Bamar, the Rakhine inhabit Rakhine state. Although they share the same Tibeto-Burman ancestors as the Bamar, the Rakhine have darker complexions, an indication of the regions 2000 year history of contact with Indian traders, sailors, and settlers. The Rohingya The Rohingya of Myanmar is one of the worlds most embattled minorities. Living in Rakhine state, the […]


The Shan make up approximately 10% of Myanmar’s population. The Shan, or Tai Yai as they call themselves, are the second-largest nationality in the Union of Myanmar. Close relatives of the Thai, the Shan mainly inhabit the upland areas of northeast Myanmar. They work mostly as wet-rice farmers and practice Theravada Buddhism.