For the purposes of this discussion, we use the term ethnic (or ethnolinguistic) minority to refer to a group of people who: (a) share a culture, ethnicity and/or language that distinguishes them from others; and (b) are either fewer in terms of number or less prestigious in terms of power than the predominant group(s) in the given state. Although the term may be considered problematic internationally, it is widely used in Southeast Asian contexts, where the socio-economically and politically dominant groups are easily identified, having played a role comparable to that of colonial and neo-colonial elite in other parts of the world. The term ethnolinguistic minority thus covers all those who are ethnically and linguistically different from dominant groups. Our intent is not to hide the size of these groups, many of which number in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. Dominant groups are not necessarily numerical majorities; in Laos, for example, there is evidence that the dominant group, who are ethnic Lao, make up less than half
of the population (Chazée 1999; Kosonen 2007), though the government claims that 55% are ethnic Lao (Lao PDR 2007).