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Thailand Ethnics

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As a country of 67 people, Thailand possesses a vast variety of ethnicity. The beautiful country has many distinct ethnic groups, including the majority Thai and numerous hill tribes. The Thai (or ethnic Tai) accounts for up to 75 percent of population, far-exceeding 14 percent of Thai Chinese. The remaining 11 percent belongs to other minority groups.

A third quarter of the population, ethnic Tais, also is divided into several branches but speaks the same language, the Thai language. Three large groups that predominantly form the Thai are Central and Southern Thai (Siamese proper), Northern Thai (Lanna) and Isan people.

14 percent of Thai Chinese, the second largest ethnic group plays an important role in economic activities of the country. They take part in business and commerce throughout Thailand and contribute a considerable amount of money to GDP. Other varied ethnic groupsinclude Malays (3-4 percent), Khmers (1 percent) and several tribal groups.

The northern part of the kingdom is the home of 1 million hill tribes with 9 main groups: Lisu, Lahu, Akha, Mien, Hmong, Karen, Lawa, H’tin, Khamu (and a handful of other smaller groups with a minimal population). The inhabitants previously lived on slash and burn farming methods to live off the land.Now highly-skilled weaving and dyeing cotton become a new financial support for them. Such exquisite handicrafts as clothes, scarves and bags are favorite souvenirs of tourists.

With a miscellany of language, history, culture, and lifestyle, ethnic groups compose a striking picture of Thailand with plentiful colors.

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