The Va people
(Va: Vāx, Burmese: ဝလူမျိုး [wa̰ lùmjóʊ]; Chinese: 佤族; pinyin: Wǎzú) live mainly in northern Burma, in the northern part of Shan State and the eastern part of Kachin State, near and along Burma's border with China. Their de facto capital is Pangkham in the unofficial Wa State in northeastern Shan State. The majority of the Va live in Burma. They were known as the "Wild Wa" by British administrators during Britain's colonial control of Burma.
In China, they live in compact communities in the Ximeng (in Va: Mēng Ka or Si Moung), Cangyuan, Menglian (Gaeng Līam), Gengma (Gaeng Mīex or Gaeng Māx), Lincang (Mēng Lām), Shuangjiang (Si Nblāeng or Mēng Mēng), Zhenkang, and Yongde counties in southwestern Yunnan Province in China. Their population in China is estimated at around 400,000.
The Va language belongs to the Mon–Khmer group of the Austroasiatic family. In China, a written language was created for the Va people in 1956.
The Va are one of the 136 officially recognized ethnic groups in Burma. Their proportion to Burma's total population is 0.16. The Va are also one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by China.
In Burma, the Va have formed the Wa State, with the United Wa State Army (UWSA), based on the remains of the former Burmese Communist Party rebel group that collapsed in 1989. The Wa State and the UWSA are in a fragile cease-fire agreement with the Burmese military government. They have been accused by Western governments of involvement in drug trafficking but have banned opium production sine 2005 and have received United Nations aid in improving legitimate agriculture.