The population of the Lào Cai province is a mosaic of ethnic groups. An incredible variety of peoples, some of them unique to Vietnam, are found on a relatively small area. In fact, visitors can meet 24 ethnic groups, each with its own language, culture and traditions. This cultural wealth is explained by the diversity of landscapes and of land available for farming. History also offers clues as to why the highlands in the Lào Cai province served as a refuge for certain ethnic groups during political unrest like the Taiping rebellion in 19th-century China.