Who are the Rohingya?

September 8, 2017
Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh after fleeing military violence in Myanmar

Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.

Many Rohingya came to Myanmar from what is now Bangladesh during the British colonial period (1820s to 1940s) to expand rice cultivation in Rakhine State.

About 1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State, making up some 2% of the country’s population and about 30% of the state’s population.

The Rohingya speak Rohingya or Ruaingga language, a dialect that is distinct to others spoken in Rakhine State and throughout Myanmar. Nevertheless, they are not considered one of the country's 135 official ethnic groups.

Rohingya residents of Myanmar are not citizens of their own nation. In 1982, Myanmar’s citizenship law classified all Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh, regardless of where they were born or how long their families had lived in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Rohingya population is the world’s largest group of stateless people.

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