With 11 % of the total population the Shan are the largest ethnic minority of Myanmar and are the only one among Myanmar's larger minorities which belongs to the SinoThai group; just like, of course, the majority of the population of neighboring Thailand.

The Shan are indeed so closely related to the Thais, that they speak practically the same language (with a degree of difference pertaining to a dialect).

Primarily the Shan are settled in that part of Myanmar, which borders on the North of Thailand. The settlement area of the Shan is notorious for its widespread cultivation of Opium and for the Heroin factories hidden in its jungles.

The leader of the Shan Independence Army, Khun Sa, counts as one of the biggest Heroin dealers of the world and was in absence charged with drug trafficking in the US.

In 1994 Khun Sa demanded that Thailand annex the Burmese settlement area of the Shan. But his demand was not contemplated by the Thai government (and probably will neither be so in the future).

At the beginning of World War II in Asia, when Thailand still sided with Japan, the Thai government of the day had in fact sent an expeditionary army into northern Myanmar to annex the Shan settlement area. But the terrain proved so difficult with considerably less infrastructure than nowadays that the Thai resources proved insufficient to successfully conduct the conquest. Therefore the expedition was cancelled wihout any further attempts.

Burmans Shan Chin and Naga
Mon Karen Rohingyas
Tours, Excursions & transfers in Myanmar

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