Ethnicity or ethnic group is a socially defined category based on common culture or nationality. Ethnicity can, but does not have to, include common ancestry, appearance, cuisine, dressing style, heritage, history, language or dialect, religion, symbols, traditions, or other cultural factor. Ethnic identity is constantly reinforced through common characteristics which set the group apart from other groups.
The Akha are an indigenous hill tribe that live in small villages at high altitudes in the mountains of Thailand, Burma, Laos, China, and Yunnan Province in China. They made their way from China into South East Asia during the early 1900s. Civil war in Burma and Laos resulted in an increased flow of Akha immigrants and there are now some 80,000 living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai where they constitute one of the largest of the hill tribes. Many of their villages can be visited by tourists on trekking tours from either of these cities.
The Akha speak Akha, a language in the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. Akha language is closely related language to the Lisu and it is conjectured that the Akha once belonged to the Lolo hunter tribe people that once ruled the Baoshan and Tengchong plains before the invasion of Ming Dynasty (A.D 1644) in Yunnan, China.