The Hmong are believed to have been the original inhabitants of the Yellow River Valley in ancient China. The expansion of the neighboring Chinese from the north, caused a disruption in the Hmong culture and forced them to migrate southwards to escape oppression and persecution. Over the centuries, many wars have been waged against the Chinese. Greatly outnumbered, the Hmong suffered heavy casualties. During the first and second Indochina Wars, France and the United States recruited thousands of Hmong people in Laos to fight against forces from north and south Vietnam and communist Pathet Lao insurgents, known as the Secret War, during the Vietnam War and the Laotian Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of Hmong refugees fled to Thailand seeking political asylum. Thousands of these refugees have resettled in Western countries since the late 1970s, mostly the United States, but also in Australia, France, French Guiana, Canada, and South America. Others have returned to Laos under United Nations-sponsored repatriation programs.
The futile efforts to establish themselves as an independent people apart from the expanding Chinese led to their mass exodus further south of China, and eventually into Southeast Asia. From here, they made their way into the territories of the European colonies that later gained independence and became known as Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. While the Hmong came to inhabit the hillside of Thailand, the country had always maintained its sovereignty from the colonists.
Today, the Hmong are located in the Thai Highlands, although some are found elsewhere within the country. Among the hilltribes, the Hmong are becoming well integrated into Thai society as well as being among the most successful. The current population of Hmong in Thailand is estimated to be roughly 151,080.