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► THE CHINESE PEOPLE

When using the term “Chinese people” what you are in fact looking at is a mixture of 55 different recognised ethnic minorities and one huge majority, the “Han” Chinese. In fact such is the size of their majority that is estimated the Han make up 91.5% of the population of Mainland China and 19% of the whole world’s population. In fact there is a huge amount of diversity both genetically as well as socially and culturally within the Han due to their migration throughout East Asia over millennia.

The Han are what most people are referring to in the West when they say “Chinese”. The Han Chinese give their name to the main language of China “Hanyu” and to the Chinese characters themselves “Hanzi”.
 
The Han, however, are not alone in being deemed Chinese and out of the other 55 ethnic minorities there are large groups of Zhuang, 18 million, Manchu, about 11 million, Uyghur just over 11
   
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million, Hui, 10 million and Miao with 9 million as well as the Yi, Tujia,  Mongols, Tibetans, Buyei, the Yao and the Koreans all having groups of sizes ranging from 2.5 million to 8 million.

The Zhuang People from Guangxi Province

The second largest group and the largest minority are the Zhuang people who are believed to be the indigenous people of the Guangxi province region of China. They have their own languages and writing systems as well as systems of faith and religion, traditionally following an animist religion known as Shigongism. This faith includes ancestor worship, divination by priests and creator known as Bu Luotuo. All things in Shigongism, or Moism as it is also known, are believed to be composed of 3 elements - heaven, earth and water. While on a China tour, you are most likely to meet Zhuang people if you travel to Guilin and Yangshuo.

The Manchu People and the Chinese Qing Dynasty

Out of the other major groups the Manchu are probably the best known due to the fact that they were the last ruling dynasty of emperors in China, the Qing dynasty. The last emperor Pu Yi was a Manchurian as was the Empress Dowager Cixi both characters that aren’t given the best of press in Chinese history books! They are the largest minority in China without their own autonomous region. As well as residing over the Qing Dynasty they are believed to be descended from the Jurchen people who set up the Jin dynasty which ran from 1115-1234. After the deposition of the last emperor and the end of the Qing Dynasty many Manchu changed their names to Han Chinese names for fear of persecution but in recent years there has been an explosion of people from Manchu families reclaiming their heritage. Between 1982 and 1990 their population doubled due mainly to people reapplying to be considered Manchu but also due to them not being restricted by China’s one child policy. Manchu people originate from the far North East of China and can be encountered in places such as Liaoning province, however there are significant populations still residing in the capital, Beijing.

Meet the people in Yunnan, Xinjiang and Tibet

When on China tours, the best place to meet and see China’s ethnic minorities is in Yunnan province, the province that borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (Burma). It is a mountainous and fertile province with about 34% of the 46 million people living there believed to be belonging to one of the many ethnic minorities that reside there. Some of the major ethnic groups that live there are the Bai, Yi, Dai, Miao as well as the Zhuang mentioned earlier. It also borders onto Tibet and there are many Tibetans that live near that border and, of course, into Tibet. Likewise if you were travelling to the north of Tibet through Xinjiang and the Silk Road you would come across many Uyghur people. Nearly everywhere you travel in China these days you can see people from many different ethnic backgrounds, something that is bound to give you a more overall picture of China.

Contributed by Phil Stanley.

map of China ethnic groups

 

  Officially recognised ethnic groups in China
English name   Pinyin   S. Chinese   T. Chinese   Population  
Han Hàn Zú 汉族 漢族 1,230,117,207
Zhuang Zhuàng Zú 壮族 壯族 16,178,811
Manchu Mǎn Zú 满族 滿族 10,682,263
Hui Huí Zú 回族 回族 9,816,802
Miao Miáo Zú 苗族 苗族 8,940,116
Uyghurs Wéiwúěr Zú 维吾尔族 維吾爾族 8,399,393
Tujia Tǔjiā Zú 土家族 土家族 8,028,133
Yi Yí Zú 彝族 彝族 7,762,286
Mongols Měnggǔ Zú 蒙古族 蒙古族 5,813,947
Tibetan Zàng Zú 藏族 藏族 5,416,021
Buyei Bùyī Zú 布依族 布依族 2,971,460
Dong Dòng Zú 侗族 侗族 2,960,293
Yao Yáo Zú 瑶族 瑤族 2,637,421
Korean Cháoxiǎn Zú 朝鲜族 朝鮮族 1,923,842
Bai Bái Zú 白族 白族 1,858,063
Hani Hāní Zú 哈尼族 哈尼族 1,439,673
Kazakh Hāsàkè Zú 哈萨克族 哈薩克族 1,250,458
Li Lí Zú 黎族 黎族 1,247,814
Dai Dǎi Zú 傣族 傣族 1,158,989
She Shē Zú 畲族 畲族 709,592
Lisu Lìsù Zú 傈僳族 傈僳族 634,912
Gelao Gēlǎo Zú 仡佬族 仡佬族 579,357
Dongxiang Dōngxiāng Zú 东乡族 東鄉族 513,805
Gaoshan Gāoshān Zú 高山族 高山族 458,000
Lahu Lāhù Zú 拉祜族 拉祜族 453,705
Sui Shuǐ Zú 水族 水族 406,902
Va Wǎ Zú 佤族 佤族 396,610
Nakhi Nàxī Zú 纳西族 納西族 308,839
Qiang Qiāng Zú 羌族 羌族 306,072
Tu Tǔ Zú 土族 土族 241,198
Mulao Mùlǎo Zú 仫佬族 仫佬族 207,352
Xibe Xíbó Zú 锡伯族 錫伯族 188,824
Kyrgyz Kēěrkèzī Zú 柯尔克孜族 柯爾克孜族 160,823
Daur Dáwòěr Zú 达斡尔族 達斡爾族 132,394
Jingpo Jǐngpō Zú 景颇族 景頗族 132,143
Maonan Màonán Zú 毛南族 毛南族 107,166
Salar Sǎlá Zú 撒拉族 撒拉族 104,503
Blang Bùlǎng Zú 布朗族 布朗族 91,882
Tajik Tǎjíkè Zú 塔吉克族 塔吉克族 41,028
Achang Āchāng Zú 阿昌族 阿昌族 33,936
Pumi Pǔmǐ Zú 普米族 普米族 33,600
Ewenki Èwēnkè Zú 鄂温克族 鄂温克族 30,505
Nu Nù Zú 怒族 怒族 28,759
Jing Jīng Zú 京族 京族 22,517
Jino Jīnuò Zú 基诺族 基諾族 20,899
De'ang Déáng Zú 德昂族 德昂族 17,935
Bonan Bǎoān Zú 保安族 保安族 16,505
Russian Éluōsī Zú 俄罗斯族 俄羅斯族 15,609
Yugur Yùgù Zú 裕固族 裕固族 13,719
Uzbeks Wūzībiékè Zú 乌孜别克族 烏孜别克族 12,370
Monba Ménbā Zú 门巴族 門巴族 8,923
Oroqen Èlúnchūn Zú 鄂伦春族 鄂倫春族 8,196
Derung Dúlóng Zú 独龙族 獨龍族 7,426
Tatars Tǎtǎěr Zú 塔塔尔族 塔塔爾族 4,890
Hezhen Hèzhé Zú 赫哲族 赫哲族 4,640
Lhoba Luòbā Zú 珞巴族 珞巴族 2,965

Content edited from Wikipedia