Indigenous hill peoples of Thailand refer to ethnic minority groups living along the mountainous areas in the North and the West of Thailand where are regarded as risk prone to various problems with inconvenient communication infrastructure, poor living conditions and the lack of educational opportunities. These hill peoples comprises 9 local tribes; namely, Karen (PgaGaYaw), Hmong (Meo), Mien (Yao), Lahu (Mu Ser), Lisu, Akha (Egor), Thin, Khamu and Mrabri (The Yellow Leaf People). These hilltribes stay along high mountainous border areas between Thai-Laos PDR and Thai-Myanmar, covering areas along northern, mid-western and northeastern Thailand. Details by geographical regions are follows:
14 provinces in northern region; namely, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Tak, Uthai Thani and Kamphaeng Phet.
5 provinces in middle region; namely, Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Prachuab Khiri Khan.
1 province in northeastern region; namely, Loei.
Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand
Numbering approximately 600,000 the hill tribes consist of 7 main groups, most of whom have migrated into the area in the past 150 years, originating in Yunnan, Northern Burma and even Tibet. Primitive, poor and often marginalized by Thais, the hill tribes prefer to live in the uplands undisturbed and are noted for their distinctive costumes. Tourism dollars, and efforts by His Majesty’s Royal Project to provide them with agricultural cooperatives, has brought prosperity and outside influence to some villages.