Austroasiatic is one of the major language families of Mainland Southeast Asia and India. This language family represents the earliest known language stock of the region, predating all other language families present today. The family comprises some 168 languages spoken by the most genetically and culturally diverse peoples in the region. Only the Khmer and Vietnamese languages share the distinction of having national language status. Most of the Austroasiatic languages are minority languages, with some like the Aslian languages spoken by the Semang hunter-gatherers of the Malay Peninsula counting their speakers in the tens. The political upheaval that wracked Southeast Asia throughout much of the 20th century seriously impeded modern research. Consequently there remains a paucity of knowledge of the languages and cultures of this family. The environmental and social impact of the rapid economic development that has taken off in the last three decades seriously threatens the long-term survival of many of the languages and cultural traditions of this region.