Shan State, also known by the endonyms Shanland, Muang Tai, and Tailong, is a state of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Shan State borders China (Yunnan) to the north, Laos (Louang Namtha and Bokeo Provinces) to the east, and Thailand (Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son Provinces) to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma (Myanmar) in the west. The largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km2, almost a quarter of the total area of Burma. The state gets its name from Burmese name for the Tai peoples: “Shan people“. The Tai (Shan) constitute the majority among several ethnic groups that inhabit the area. Shanland is largely rural, with only three cities of significant size: Lashio, Kengtung, and the capital, Taunggyi. Taunggyi is 150.7 km northeast of the nation’s capital Naypyitaw.
Shanland, with many ethnic groups, is home to several armed ethnic armies. While the military government has signed ceasefire agreements with most groups, vast areas of the state, especially those east of the Salween River, remain outside the central government’s control, and in recent years have come under heavy ethnic-Han Chinese economic and political influence. Other areas are under the control of military groups such as the Shan State Army.
According to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Shan State is the region that produces the most opium in Myanmar, accounting for 82% (331 metric tons) of the country’s total output (405 metric tons) in 2020. With that said, opium poppy cultivation has declined year-on-year since 2015. In 2020, cultivation in Shan State declined a further 12%, with reductions taking place in East, North and South Shan with respective decreases of 17%, 10% and 9% from previous levels in 2019.