Chin State is a mountainous region of western Burma/Myanmar, bordering Northeast India and Bangladesh as well as Rakhine State, Magwe and Sagaing Regions. It is home to approximately 479,000 people. In predominantly Buddhist Burma/Myanmar, 85 percent of people in Chin State are Christian, of many different denominations.
According to the international legal concept of indigenous peoples, the majority of people in Chin State are indigenous and self-identity as such. Although people in Chin State are unified to some extent through shared history, religion, cultural heritage, geographical homeland, and traditional practices, the origins of the collective term Chin are disputed (‘Chin’ is accepted by many, but not all) and many people prefer to use nomenclature such as Laimi, Zomi, Muun, Zotung, Mara, Matu, Khumi and so on to denote their identities. These identities are also shaped by complex systems of kinship and clans which often also stray into neighboring countries and regions, prompting some to look to a larger overlapping identity of 'Zo'.
Chin State is one of the most linguistically diverse parts of Burma/Myanmar, with many mutually unintelligible dialects and no common language. For most children, Burmese is their second or third language and they are unlikely to use it much before entering school.
Chin State is one of the most isolated regions in Burma/Myanmar, with inadequate road infrastructure, communication systems, healthcare and education facilities, electricity and running water. During rainy season many roads - particularly in remote northern and southern parts of Chin State - are virtually impassable. In Paletwa township, southern Chin State, there are very few roads and people primarily travel by boat on the Kaladan river and its tributaries. In other areas of Chin State many villages are connected by a network of paths rather than paved roads. Shifting cultivation is the primary subsistence livelihood for the largely rural communities in Chin State. Chin State continues to be affected by on going armed conflicts which have taken place in Paletwa township since 2015.
It is no understatement to say that Chin State has a determined and resilient population in the face of significant challenges. It also boasts a varied and active civil society. Chin State also has an unusually strong, exposed and educated diaspora that in part thanks to greater educational opportunities abroad are able to contribute to life back home. For example, their hard earned remittances play a significant role in an otherwise low-earning internal population. Many former migrants are returning to Chin State and bringing invaluable contributions and skills.