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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 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.

Map of China's Ethnolinguistic Groups

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.

  Officially recognised ethnic groups in China
English namePinyinS. ChineseT. ChinesePopulation
HanHàn Zú汉族漢族1,230,117,207
ZhuangZhuàng Zú壮族壯族16,178,811
ManchuMǎn Zú满族滿族10,682,263
HuiHuí Zú回族回族9,816,802
MiaoMiáo Zú苗族苗族8,940,116
UyghursWéiwúěr Zú维吾尔族維吾爾族8,399,393
TujiaTǔjiā Zú土家族土家族8,028,133
YiYí Zú彝族彝族7,762,286
MongolsMěnggǔ Zú蒙古族蒙古族5,813,947
TibetanZàng Zú藏族藏族5,416,021
BuyeiBùyī Zú布依族布依族2,971,460
DongDòng Zú侗族侗族2,960,293
YaoYáo Zú瑶族瑤族2,637,421
KoreanCháoxiǎn Zú朝鲜族朝鮮族1,923,842
BaiBái Zú白族白族1,858,063
HaniHāní Zú哈尼族哈尼族1,439,673
KazakhHāsàkè Zú哈萨克族哈薩克族1,250,458
LiLí Zú黎族黎族1,247,814
DaiDǎi Zú傣族傣族1,158,989
SheShē Zú畲族畲族709,592
LisuLìsù Zú傈僳族傈僳族634,912
GelaoGēlǎo Zú仡佬族仡佬族579,357
DongxiangDōngxiāng Zú东乡族東鄉族513,805
GaoshanGāoshān Zú高山族高山族458,000
LahuLāhù Zú拉祜族拉祜族453,705
SuiShuǐ Zú水族水族406,902
VaWǎ Zú佤族佤族396,610
NakhiNàxī Zú纳西族納西族308,839
QiangQiāng Zú羌族羌族306,072
TuTǔ Zú土族土族241,198
MulaoMùlǎo Zú仫佬族仫佬族207,352
XibeXíbó Zú锡伯族錫伯族188,824
KyrgyzKēěrkèzī Zú柯尔克孜族柯爾克孜族160,823
DaurDáwòěr Zú达斡尔族達斡爾族132,394
JingpoJǐngpō Zú景颇族景頗族132,143
MaonanMàonán Zú毛南族毛南族107,166
SalarSǎlá Zú撒拉族撒拉族104,503
BlangBùlǎng Zú布朗族布朗族91,882
TajikTǎjíkè Zú塔吉克族塔吉克族41,028
AchangĀchāng Zú阿昌族阿昌族33,936
PumiPǔmǐ Zú普米族普米族33,600
EwenkiÈwēnkè Zú鄂温克族鄂温克族30,505
NuNù Zú怒族怒族28,759
JingJīng Zú京族京族22,517
JinoJīnuò Zú基诺族基諾族20,899
De’angDéáng Zú德昂族德昂族17,935
BonanBǎoān Zú保安族保安族16,505
RussianÉluōsī Zú俄罗斯族俄羅斯族15,609
YugurYùgù Zú裕固族裕固族13,719
UzbeksWūzībiékè Zú乌孜别克族烏孜别克族12,370
MonbaMénbā Zú门巴族門巴族8,923
OroqenÈlúnchūn Zú鄂伦春族鄂倫春族8,196
DerungDúlóng Zú独龙族獨龍族7,426
TatarsTǎtǎěr Zú塔塔尔族塔塔爾族4,890
HezhenHèzhé Zú赫哲族赫哲族4,640
LhobaLuòbā Zú珞巴族珞巴族2,965

Content edited from Wikipedia

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