Miao is a term used by the Chinese government to designate a Southern Chinese culture and language group that makes up one of 55 official ethnic minority groups in the country.
Many people classed by the government as Miao would define themselves and their ethnicity with different names. These may include Hmong, Hmu, A Hmao, Kho Xiong or others.
The so-called Miao groups live predominantly in southern China and southeast Asia. Chinese people traditionally refer to Miao peoples by the color of the women's clothes: Black Miao, Red Miao, White Miao, Flowery Miao, Long-Horn
There were some 9.6 million members of Miao groups in China in 2009, according to the census.
Some historians believe that the Miao were among the first settlers and rice farmers in China.
The Miao language family consists of 6 languages and some 35 dialects. Not all Miao languages are mutually intelligible. Often groups classified as Miao will have wildly different religions, customs and languages, and may not be able to understand one another.