LANGUAGES of burma (myanmar)
Burmese is the official language of Myanmar, taught in school. Many educated Burmese also speak English to some degree. Burmese is easier to learn for most people than Thai because it has fewer tones (3 instead of 5). It uses an alphabet and script similar to Thai or Lao. There are a large number of non-Burmese ethnic groups within Burma which speak a mother tongue other than Burmese. The largest are the Shan (brown) in Shan State in the NE - about 3 million. The Shan language is related to Thai. The Wa (yellow) are also in Shan state - with several hundred thousand speakers. A large web of various Chin (light gray) languages (somewhat related) are spoken in Chin State in the NW - bordering India. Various groups of Karen (red) live along the isthmus border with Thailand. Mon (yellow) are in the north part of isthmus in Mon and Kayan states (less than 1 million), and some other hilltribe groups (purple-pink) also found in Laos and Thailand, are scattered across the north, such as the Naga, Lisu, Lahu, and Akha. A large number of Karen live in Thailand as refugees in villages frequented by tourists, and on the Burmese side of Thai border crossings, are on display for profit. A majority of the land mass of the country is located outside the populated, traveled, and developed Yangon - Mandalay corridor. Fighting between ethnic groups and the central military government has been an obstacle to peace and democracy since Burma's independence. In line with the rapid changes taking place in 2013, Burma has promised access to ethnic areas previously off-limits to foreigners and overland travel from border crossings with Thailand into such areas for the first time. Time will tell if this happens or not and what the future holds for Burma's ethnic groups...
Coming Soon: CHIN JINGPAW OTHERS