Hmong and Mongol can sound like very similar names, so there can be confusion if they are the same group of people and even related. Both of these groups come from Asia.
The Hmong people are from China and have migrated over time to southeast Asia, including mainly Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). The Mongols are also known as Mongolians, live mainly in Inner Mongolia (China) and Mongolia. The Hmong mainly live in the mountains, whereas the Mongols are nomadic herders.
Even though they may have similar-sounding names and are from different parts of Asia, they are actually two very different groups of people.
Here is some more information on the Hmong and Mongol people and why they are not the same group.
Hmong Vs. Mongol People
There can be a lot of confusion about whether the Hmong and the Mongol people are actually related. Some may share some DNA as they both are around the Asian area, but it would be such little genetic DNA that it is hardly mentioning.
But this would not be every Mongol or even Hmong person but only those who maybe had some genetic DNA markers because somewhere way back in their line, they had a Mongolian relative.
During the Mongolian King Genghis Khan’s rule, Mongolia ruled most of Asia, including central and east Asia. It could be that many Mongolians intermarried with Hmong, Han Chinese, and even other ethnic groups in China.
But this would be where their similarities are; the Hmong and Mongolians have far more differences than similarities.
Differences Between Hmong and Mongolians
There are many distinct differences between the present-day Hmong and Mongolians, Everything from their language, culture to where and how they live.
Below is a chart to show you the major characteristics of the Hmong and Mongolians. If you look at this chart, you can see that they have hardly anything in common.
|Location||China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar||Mongolia|
|Language||Hmong-Mien Language||Altaic Language|
|Migration||Migrated Out Of China Southward |
to Vietnam, Lao, Thailand, and Myanmar
|No Migration – Mainly in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia (China)|
|Economy||Use to practice “slash and burn” agriculture techniques. |
Mainly farmers who grow on the mountainside.
|Nomadic lifestyle |
Herders of sheep, goats, camels, and yaks.
|China’s Ethnic Classification||Miao||Mongol|
|No of People in China||about 3 million||About 5.9 million|
|Population Outside China||About 1.3 million (scattered around Southeast Asia and World)||About 3.2 million people in Mongolia|
You can clearly see that both the Hmong and Mongols are very different groups of people. Everything from their language, religion, economy, lifestyle, and where they live is completely different.
The Mongols live mainly in colder climates and are nomadic herders. Even today, if you travel to Mongolia, you will find many still living the ger’s or yurts. They produce a lot of cashmere, wool, and other yarns. The climate the Mongols live in is frigid.
On the other hand, the Hmong live mainly in Southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. They are known to be mountain people that settle up in the mountain areas and do a lot of planting on the mountainside. They live in some temperate areas.
In almost every way, the Hmong and Mongols are very different groups of people. They have very little in common except that their names may sound similar to many people.
My Own Observations – Hmong and Mongolians
I have been to both Mongolia and many Hmong villages of North Vietnam. I can hardly think of any group of people who are as different as these two groups of people.
The Hmong in North Vietnam live in the mountains and grow a lot of corn for pig feed and other animals. Today many of them still live up the mountains in small farming communities and practice terrace farming.
Traditionally the Hmong were also one of the major growers of the opium crop. Many Hmong also live in a place like the United States as they helped the US military during the Vietnam War.
On the other hand, the Mongols or Mongolians live in frigid climates. They are mainly nomads who will travel from grazing land to grazing land with their herds of goats, sheep, yaks, and camels.
Today, most Mongolian herders will sell the fur from their herds as their main source of income. As herders, they do not stay in a place long enough to grow many vegetables or other plants.
I honestly cannot think of more different people than the Hmong and Mongol; everything is different from their lifestyle to how and where they live. Everything from the way they dress to their religious beliefs to their economies is very different.
Or, if you are interested in Mongol or Mongolians, you can read our blog Mongolia Vs. Inner Mongolia: What Is The Difference? by clicking here.
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