Any member of a Southeast Asian people who live primarily in eastern and northwestern Myanmar (Burma) and also in Yunnan province, China. The Shan are the largest minority group in Myanmar, numbering more than four million. They live mainly in the valleys and plains on the Shan Plateau, where they grow rice or practice shifting agriculture. They are Theravada Buddhists and have their own written language and literature. They dominated much of Myanmar from the 13th to the 16th century; since the 1970s they have been at odds with the national government over the issue of local autonomy. See alsoTai.