Today marks the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994 to celebrate our world's cultural and linguistic diversity.
The Asia-Pacific region is home to two-thirds of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples, speaking 2,300 of the world's 7,000 languages. Seventy ethnic groups live in Thailand, and neighbouring countries such as Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar have more. Even countries not known for their cultural diversity, such as Taiwan and Brunei, each boast more than a dozen indigenous groups speaking their own unique languages. Multilingual countries are the Asian norm, not the exception.
Despite the cultural richness they bring to their host countries, indigenous communities are often victims of assimilationist policies, economic pressures and environmental degradation.
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