Indigenous peoples of China
Two terms, Miao and Hmong, are both currently used to refer to one of the aboriginal peoples of China. They live mainly in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi and Hubei. According to the 1989 census, their number in China was estimated to be about 7 million. Outside China they live in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma, due to migrations starting in the 18th century, and also in the United States, French Guyana and Australia, as a result of recent migrations in the aftermath of the Indochinese wars. Altogether there are approximately 8 million speakers of the language. This language, which consists of 30-40 mutually unintelligible dialects, belongs, together with the Bunu language, to the Miao branch of the Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) language family.
With a population of more than seven million, the Miao people form one of the largest ethnic minorities in southwest China. They are mainly distributed across Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Sichuan provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and a small number live on Hainan Island in Guangdong Province and in southwest Hubei Province. Most of them live in tightly-knit communities, with a few living in areas inhabited by several other ethnic groups.