The Hmong (RPA: Hmoob/Moob, ) are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity (苗族) in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land. During the first and second Indochina Wars, France and the United States recruited thousands of Hmong people in Laos to fight against forces from north and south Vietnam and communist Pathet Lao insurgents, known as the Secret War, during the Vietnam War and the Laotian Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of Hmong refugees fled to Thailand seeking political asylum. Thousands of these refugees have resettled in Western countries since the late 1970s, mostly the United States, but also in Australia, France, French Guiana, Canada, and South America. Others have returned to Laos under United Nations-sponsored repatriation programs.