The Chittagong Hill Tracts in south-east Bangladesh, are on the border between South Asia and South East Asia. The tracts are a series of lines of hills that run from
the Himalayan ranges to Myanmar. To the west of this area there is a culture and set of languages that are familiar to those who have travelled in India, Iran, Turkey, etc. However the people who have lived in the CHT for hundreds of years are Mongoloid, speak
Sino-Tibetan tonal languages and have a culture, that is similar to that of Burma, the Mekong valley and China, but which has been developed by the need to survive in the difficult hill areas. For this reason the CHT can be seen as a border between the 2 cultural
blocks of Asia.
No one is the difference between the 2 cultural blocks more apparent than in the town of Bandarban. Half the population are of the western asian
culture; a male dominated culture based on commerce (you barter for everything) speaking a language that mostly derived from Persia. The other half are the local, indigenous people, who have a culture based on kinship and strong community. The People page
shows the lives of these people.
The Bandarban hills are probably the only place in the world where you can find several different languages and cultures living
in close proximity in harmony. The differences in culture between the groups are quite apparent and include differences languages, clothes, religions traditions, laws, etc. It is possible to walk between the villages of several groups within a day and get
the sense of the cultural differences and of the peaceful co-existence.
And the hills and the settlements on those hills are stunningly beautiful. Please see
the Scenery page.
Because the CHT forms a natural geographic and cultural borderline, it has changed hands several times, has experienced inter-community conflict,
has used as a buffer zone and, too often, has seen as an area to be exploited.
The Bandarban hill district is the southern most of the three districts of the
CHT. Bandarban has eleven indigenous groups; has the highest hills; has a border with Burma and has the smallest proportion of settlers from the plains.
is important to look at the history of the people of the people of Bandarban to realise why the customary laws and traditions exist. The eleven indigenous groups of Bandarban are the Bawm, Pangkuao, Lushai (these 3 can be are all northern Chin groups), Khumi,
Khyang, (who are both Southern Chin), Mro, Marma, Chak, Tripura, Chakma and Tongchanya. The History page explains how the area has derived.
edited by Richie Aung