Myanmar People Burmese
Officially 135 ethnic groups comprise Myanmar people. About 70 percent of the population is descended from the Myanmar, also pronounced as Mranma, Burmese or Bama, who arrived from Central Asia and Tibet around the tenth century. Apart from the Chinese and Indians, most minority ethnic groups live mainly in the hills. The hills peoples' lifestyles and languages are distinct. Some are Buddhists or Christians, but many still adhere to their traditional practices of worshiping local spirits.
Myanmar has a diverse population, the result of three separate migrations from Central Asia and Tibet. The first migration brought the Mons. The second groups of migrants was the Tibeto-Myanmar, and the third, sometime during the 13th and 14th centuries, consisted of Tai Shan people.
Bamar or Myanmar
Bamars, or ethnic Myanmar, are the largest ethnic group, comprising 68 percent of the total population. Referred to generally as Myanmar, as opposed to the other ethnic groups, Bamars are basically mixed with Mons, and the Tai Shan. Predominantly Buddhists, they live mostly in the river valleys and plains.
Read more about Burma or Myanmar
Mon people settle in Ayeyarwaddy delta, Mon state, and Karen state. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar and Thailand.
Rakhine or Arakanese
Roughly 3 millions Arakanese or Rakhine people have resided along the western coast of Myanmar. Like Bamar and Mons, Rakhine people are Buddhists, and their language are similar to Bamar. In Bangladesh, there are approximately 200, 000 Arakanese-speaking people by the names of Rakhine, Marma, Mog or Mug.
Kayin or Karen
Kayin (Karen) are the third largest group; Sgaw and Pwo Kayins are the two main Kayin groups. They live in the Ayeyarwady delta and also in hilly Kayin State. They form about 7 percent of the population.
The Shans, light skinned and tall, are related to the Thais and the people of Laos. Primarily farmers, they live in the river valleys and lowland pockets of the Shan plateau, forming 9 percent of the total population.
The Chin people live in Chin and Rakhine state. About 80-90 percent of the Chin have converted to Buddhism and Christianity; the rest are animists; that is, they worship spirits.
Kachins live in Kachin State in the northernmost past of Myanmar, They are well-known for their fierce fighting spirit, as are the Chin people.
Kayah or Karenni
Kayah people were once known as Red Kayin (Karenni) and live in Kayah State, south of Shan State.
Apart from these main groups, there are many other smaller ethnic groups such as Palaung, Padaung, Lisu, Wa, Lahu, Lashi, Akha, Wa, Intha, Danu, Pa-O, Yaw, and others. The smaller ethnic groups tend to live in the more remote areas of Myanmar.