China's Population Mix


  Chinese civilization extends backwards in time some 4,000 years. Through a long period of history, China has played a major role in the development of the world civilization, and made great contributions to human advancement.

  China has a land mass of 9.6 million square kilometers, making it almost as large as the combined nations of Europe. China's borders reach from the confluence of the Heilong River and the Wusuli River in the east to the Pamir Mountains in the west, taking in more than 60 degrees of longitude for a total of about 5,000 kilometers. From the center of the Heilong River near Mohe in the north to the Zengmu Reef in the Nansha Archipelago in the south, China extends 5,500 kilometers, covering more than 50 degrees of latitude.

  On this vast expanse of China's richly endowed land live 56 ethnic groups with a total population of 1.248 billion. [This figure, taken at the end of 1998, does not include figures of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.] In the long course of developing the land they have become an intelligent, brave and industrious people with a rich tradition. By their common work they have brought into being a collective creation, developing the Chinese economy and creating a great culture.

      In China, the Han people make China's and the world's largest ethnic group, making up 91.96 per cent of the country's population.

      The formation and development of the Han people was a continuous process of integration of the earliest Huaxia tribe with other related tribes and ethnic groups. It was in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) that they adopted the name "Han"; their language belongs to the Han group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family.

      A people first active along the Yellow River, the Hans later expanded and gradually moved to fill the country; the highest population concentrations are now in the Yellow River, the Yangtze and the Zhujiang River basins and on the Songhua-Liaohe River Plain in Northeast China. In the long course of history they have developed various political, economic and cultural contacts with other nationalities to become more advanced; Hans now play an overwhelming role in the life of the state.

      The population of the other 55 ethnic minority groups adds up to 8.04 per cent of China's population. But there is a great difference in the size of these minority nationalities. The ethnic minority groups with over a million people include: Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uygur, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongolian, Bouyei, Dong, Yao, Korean, Bai, Hani, Li, Kazak and Dai, 18 in all. The largest of these is the Zhuang, with a total of more than 15 million people.

      Those with populations between 100,000 and one million each are the She, Lisu, Gelo, Lahu, Dongxiang, Va, Shui, Naxi, Qiang, Tu, Xibe, Mulam, Kirgiz, Daur and Jingpo.

      Those with a population of 10,000 to 100,000 each are the Blang, Salar, Maonan, Tajik, Pumi, Achang, Nu, Ewenki, Jing, Jino, Deang, Ozbek, Russian, Yugur and Bonan. Those whose population is below 10,000 are the Moinba, Oroqen, Drung, Tatar, Oroqen, Hezhe, Gaoshan (excluding those in Taiwan) and Lhoba.

      Although small in number, the peoples of the various ethnic minorities inhabit 50 to 60 per cent of the country. This area includes Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Guangxi, Ningxia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangdong, Hunan, Hebei, Hubei, Fujian and Taiwan.

      Ethnic minorities live in places with the following common characteristics: 

      1) A wide expanse of land with a sparse distribution of population. Many minority peoples have traditionally established their villages in mountainous and pastoral areas, on high plateaus and in deep forests.

      2) A wide range of products and abundant mineral resources.

      3) Strategically important as border regions for the whole country.

      The vicissitudes of time, war, migration and seizure of lands throughout history have produced many shifts of population in the border areas. Various ethnic minorities live both mingled together and as separate compact communities. Some minority nationalities live widely scattered over the country, though they may also have one or two communities. A permanent presence of several dozen millions of ethnic minority people can be found in the country's big and small cities and towns. So, with mutual influence on each other in economy, politics and culture, they have formed close ties with the Han people.