The Rawang people live in the far north of Kachin State in Myanmar (Burma), particularly along the Mae Hka and and Maeli Hka river valleys. Their areas extend east into the Salween valley in Yunnan Province, China, where they are known in Chinese as the Dulong people and a subset of the Nu people, and west into Arunachal Pradesh, India. Currently Rawang populated townships in Kachin State include Putao, Machangbaw, Khonglangphu and Sumprabum. Many Rawang also live in and around Myitkyina and are scattered in many other parts of Myanmar.

The term Rawang is a generic term. It represents four groups; Daru-Zewang, Lungmi, Tangsarr and Matwang. Some literature includes a fifth group, Anong, the language of whom is unmistakeably related to Rawang. However, some Rawang and many Anong people consider the Anong people to be a separate ethnic group. Each of the Rawang divisions has several sub-branches and speak different dialects. Some dialects, even within the same group, are very different from others and mutually unintelligible.

Matwang, the central and written dialect, is a prestigious and standard dialect. Most Rawang can read and understand Matwang and it serves as a lingua franca among the Rawang groups.