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Chiang Mai Hilltribe Stats

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Hill Tribe Background

There are many hilltribe people living in the mountainous districts surrounding Chiang Mai such as Omkoi, Mae Jam, Chiang Dao, and Mae Ai.

Statistics reported by the Tribal Research Institute of Chiang Mai stated that in the year 1992 there were

1,049 hilltribe villages in the Chiang Mai province, constituting a total of 174,195 people.

The break down is,
106,116 were from the Karen tribe,
27,392 from the Lahu (Musur) tribe,
17,198 from the Hmong (Meo) tribe,
10,873 form the Lisu tribe,
8,862 from the Lua tribe,
2,609 from the Akha tribe,
1,145 from the Mien (yao) tribe,
and 485 from the Palong tribe.

The hilltribe people are agricultural; planting fields, raising animals, and hunting for a living. Since each tribe has its own culture and language, they cover the hills of Chiang Mai providing a diverse cultural experience for travelers to experience.

It's worth doing a little research before deciding on a trek. All the hill tribes for instance have their own costumes and characteristics. The shy Akha, the colourful Lihu, the elegant Yao (Mien), Hmong, Karen and various peoples from the Shan states, China, Laos and Burma have found their way into the region over time and now constitute the bulk of Thailand's ethnic minorities. Many of them are still landless and stateless, speak their own languages and follow their own beliefs and customs. Distressing as it may be to purists these people are also amazingly pragmatic and have opted for a curious symbiotic relationship with tourism. The best example of this relationship is the long-necked people, the Padaung (a Karen subgroup from Burma). Some (not all) of the young girls start applying brass coils at an early age in order to elongate their necks. Legends suggest this custom may have to do with imitating dragons and presumably it is also considered attractive. It's certainly lucrative and gives rise to all kinds of ethical questions in the visitor's mind. A visit to a long-neck village is a must for women's rights activists and human Rights activists.

A women's body and her right to choice? Slavery is alive and ....?

The Akha Heritage Foundation

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