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Ethnic Groups
2004/10/27
China is a multiethnic country, having 56 ethnic groups. The Han is the largest group, accounting for over 92 percent of the national total population, while the remaining 55 ethnic groups, collectively called ethnic minorities, comprise less than 8 percent. Of them, the Zhuang is the largest ethnic minority group, with a population of more than 15 million, and the Lhoba is the smallest, having a population of 2,000 or so. The Hans are distributed all over China, though living in compact communities in the Yellow, Yangtze and Pearl river valleys and in the Songhuajiang-Liaohe Plain. The ethnic minorities inhabit 50-60 percent of the Chinese territory, despite their small population. The Han people have their own spoken and written language, which is also the national language of China, as well as one of the universally used languages in the world. Hui and Manchu also use Han Chinese. The remaining 53 ethnic groups normally use their own languages, 23 of which have a written form. Over the ages, the Han people have established extensive political and economic ties and cultural exchanges with various ethnic minorities and they have formed an interdependent relationship for common development.

Han: With a population of about 1.159 billion, it forms the main body of the Chinese nation. The Han people inhabit most regions in China, but mainly live in the Yellow, Yangtze and Pearl river valleys. Han Chinese is the common language of both Hans and the majority of ethnic minorities.

Mongolian: Comprising 4.8 million people, the former nomads now lead a settled life. They mainly live in the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions, and Qinghai, Gansu, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

Hui: An Islamic group with a population of 8.6 million. The Hui people can be found in all parts of China though living in compact communities in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Tibetan: Believing in Tibetan Buddhism, the group has a population of 5.08 million, with 2.42 million living in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Also distributed in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces, the Tibetan people have their own spoken and written language.

Uygur: An Islamic group of 7.2 million people, mainly living in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The Uygur language they use adopts the alphabetic system of Arabic alphabets.

Miao: A widely distributed group of 7.4 million people. Besides Guizhou, Yunnan and Hunan provinces, which contain larger groups of Miao residents, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Sichuan, Hainan and Hubei provinces also have areas inhabited by Miao people in compact communities.

Yi: One of the oldest ethnic groups in China, with a population of 6.5 million. The Yi people are mainly distributed in Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Zhuang: The largest ethnic minority group in China has a population of 15 million, with 13 million living in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the rest in the neighboring provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan.

Bouyei: Mainly inhabiting Guizhou Province, the group has a population of 2.45 million.

Korean: A group of 1.9 million people. The Koreans mainly live in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, though they can also be found in Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Manchu: The second largest ethnic minority group in China has a population of 9.82 million. The Manchu people come from the vast region between the Changbai Mountain and the Heilongjiang River in northeast China.

Dong: A group of 2.5 million people, who are mainly distributed in Guizhou and Hunan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Yao: A group of 2.13 million people. Mainly distributed in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Jiangxi provinces, the Yao people have their own language.

Bai: A Buddhist group with a population of 1.6 million. Most of the Bai people inhabit the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, with the rest living in Guizhou, Sichuan and Hunan provinces.

Tujia: An old group of 5.7 million people living in Wuling Mountains at the junction of Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.

Hani: With a population of 1.25 million, the Hani is an ethnic group living and engaged in farming in mountains of Yunnan Province.

Kazakh: An Islamic people totaling 1.11 million. The Kazakh people are mainly distributed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Dai: A group of 1.02 million people inhabiting Xishuangbanna and some other areas in Yunnan Province. Most of the Dai people are believers in Hinayana (the Little Vehicle of Salvation) of Buddhism.

Li: A group of 1.11 million people, mainly distributed in central and south Hainan Province.

Lisu: A group of 580,000 people inhabiting Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in compact communities.

Wa: A group of 350,000 people mainly distributed in southwest Yunnan Province.

She: A group of 630,000 people distributed in southeast China, with the majority living in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

Gaoshan: An old group of 340,000 people. With the majority living in central mountains and eastern plains of Taiwan Province, the Gaoshan people form the chief ethnic minority group on the island.

Lahu: A group of 410,000 people inhabiting the Lancangjiang River Valley in southwest China.

Shui: A group of 340,000 people living mainly in Guizhou Province and the west Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Dongxiang: A group of 370,000 people living in compact communities in Gansu Province. The Dongxiang people can also be found in the Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

Jingpo: A group of 110,000 people. Forefathers of the Jingpo people labored and lived in the south of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and later moved southward. The group now inhabits some areas in Yunnan Province in compact communities.

Blang: A group of 80,000 people living mainly in the Xinshuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

Kirghiz: A group of 140,000 people, the former nomads now lead a settled life, inhabiting mainly southwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Tu: A group living mainly in Qinghai and Gansu provinces, with a population of 190,000.

Daur: A group of 120,000 people mainly distributed along the banks of the Nenjiang River, northeast China.

Mulam: A group of 150,000 people living mainly in the Luocheng Mulam Autonomous County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Qiang: A group of 190,000 people living in compact communities in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Records of the group can be found on unearthed bones and tortoise shells with inscriptions of the Yin Dynasty over 3,000 years ago.

Salar: A group inhabiting Qinghai and Gansu provinces, with a population of 90,000.

Tajik: A group inhabiting the Pamirs Plateau in southwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with a population of 30,000. The Tajik people are mainly engaged in animal husbandry as well as farming.

Maonan: A group of 70,000 people mainly distributed in Huanjiang County, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Gelao: A group living mainly in Guizhou Province, with a population of 430,000.

Xibe: A group of 170,000 people mainly distributed in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, with some living in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Most of the Xibe people are believers in Lamaism.

Achang: A group of 20,000 living in compact communities in the Dehong Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

Pumi: A group living mainly in Yunnan Province, with a population of 20,000. Forefathers of the Pumi people moved to Yunnan from the remote northwest, making the group one of the ethnic minorities migrating the longest distance.

Nu: A group of 20,000 people living mainly along the banks of the Nujiang River in Yunnan Province and practicing a kind of primitive religion.

Uzbek: A group of 14,000 people mainly distributed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Russian: A group of 13,000 people, with the majority living in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the rest scattered in Heilongjiang Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Ewenki: A group of 26,000 people mainly distributed in Hulun Buir League, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and in some counties of Heilongjiang Province. The Ewenki is the only ethnic group in China raising the reindeer.

Naxi: A group living mainly in Lijiang area of Yunnan Province, with a population of 270,000. The Dongba Script created by the Naxi people more than 1,000 years ago is now the only well preserved pictographic writing in the world.

Bonan: A group living in Gansu Province, with a population of 12,000. Compared with others, it is a new ethnic group formed through constant association and in