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China's Ethnic Minorities


From the dawn of time, China's history is a story of an immense land with several diverse tribes. It is also one of migrations and conflict, and separation and fusion of cultures. The product of the intermingling of many tribes, the Han people were among the first to settle down and develop an agrarian society. As their culture flourished, the more contempt they felt for the migrant hunter-gatherers that lay just beyond the horizon. Even though the modern concept of 56 ethnic groups is often considered an arbitrary and conservative summary of the hundreds of diverse peoples in China, it pales in comparison to the simplicity by which the ancient Han people distinguished their nomadic neighbors. For them-- the tribe occupying the Center of the World-- the only distinction was direction, and non-Han were called "Di" (northern), "Rong" (west), "Yi" (east), and "Man" (south).

As the Han prospered, they became the envy of the hearty horsemen of the north. Over a 2,000 year period, waves of invaders breached the Great Wall and poured into the Chinese heartland. The Huns, the Mongols, and Manchurians all came-- and unlike the plunder and destruction characterized by the barbarian invasions of Rome, these peoples admired what they saw, leading them to stay and assimilate. At the same time, the Han were also following migratory patterns. Seeking to avoid the invasions, or simply moving as burgeoning populations strained resources, the Chinese moved southward. And here, they met with an enormous diversity of cultures. Some would be pushed further south, others would stay and assimilate. No matter what the story, one enduring theme of Chinese history remains the stability of Han Chinese Culture.

In 1911, the last Imperial Dynasty, established 300 years before by the Manchu minority, was unseated by the Nationalist Party of Sun Yat-sen. Dr. Sun himself saw China as a "Republic of Five Nationalities" (indeed, the five stars on the national flag of the People's Republic of China reflect this idea), though after his death, the Nationalists denied the existence of different ethnic groups. However, after the Communist Party came to power in 1949, an earnest effort to investigate and categorize minorities began. Although over 400 minority groups answered a call to register, studies found that there was a lot of overlapping, and a significant number of groups that claimed to be separate were actually the same with different names. After four years of detailed research and field work, 54 ethnic groups were officially recognized as independent nationalities. A 55th was added in 1979.
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客家人的遷徙歷史

China's Ethnic Minority Population Distribution

(Date of the Fourth National Census, July 1, 1990)

Ethnic Group Name Population
(100,000)
Major Areas of Distribution Religion Costume Group Community
Achang
阿昌族
0.277 Yunnan Buddhism
Bai
白族
15.981 Yunnan, Guizhou Buddhism
Bao'an
保安族
0.117 Gansu Islam
Bouyei
布依族
25.483 Guizhou Polytheism
Bulang
布朗族
0.824 Yunnan Buddhism
Dai
傣族
10.254 Yunnan Buddhism
Daur
达斡尔族
1.215 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang Shamanism
De'ang
德昂族
0.155 Yunnan Buddhism
Derung
独龙族
0.058 Yunnan Polytheism
Dong
侗族
25.086 Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi Polytheism
Dongxiang
东乡族
3.737 Gansu, Xinjiang Islam
Ewenki
鄂温克族
0.264 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang Buddhism
Gaoshan
高山族
0.029 Taiwan, Fujian Polytheism
Gelao
仡佬族
4.382 Guizhou, Guangxi Polytheism
Hani
哈尼族
12.548 Yunnan Buddhism
Hezhen
赫哲族
0.043 Heilongjiang Shamanism
Hui
回族
86.120 Ninxia, Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Yunnan, Shandong, Xinjiang, Anhui, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shaanxi, Beijing, Tianjin Islam
Jing
京族
0.187 Guangxi Taoism
Jino
基诺族
0.180 Yunnan Polytheism
Jingpo
景颇族
1.193 Yunnan Buddhism
Kazak
哈萨克族
11.108 Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai Islam
Kirghiz
柯尔克孜族
1.435 Xinjiang, Heilongjiang Islam
Korean
朝鲜族
19.234 Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang Buddhism
Lahu
拉祜族
4.115 Yunnan Buddhism
Lhoba
珞巴族
0.023 Tibet Lamaism
Li
黎族
11.125 Hainan Polytheism
Lisu
傈僳族
5.746 Yunnan, Sichuan Polytheism
Manchu
满族
98.468 Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Beijing, Inner Mongolia Shamanism
Maonan
毛南族
0.724 Guangxi Polytheism
Miao
苗族
73.836 Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hainan, Hubei Polytheism
Monba
门巴族
0.075 Tibet Lamaism
Mongolian
蒙古族
48.024 Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Qinghai Buddhism
Mulao
仫佬族
1.606 Guangxi Buddhism
Naxi
纳西族
2.778 Yunnan, Sichuan Lamaism
Nu
怒族
0.272 Yunnan Polytheism
Oroqen
鄂伦春族
0.070 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang Buddhism
Pumi
普米族
0.297 Yunnan Lamaism
Qiang
羌族
1.983 Sichuan Animism
Russian
俄罗斯族
0.135 Xinjiang Orthodox
Salar
撒拉族
0.875 Qinghai, Gansu Islam
She
畲族
6.347 Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guangdong Buddhism
Shui
水族
3.471 Guizhou, Guangxi Polytheism
Tajik
塔吉克族
0.332 Xinjiang Islam
Tartar
塔塔尔族
0.051 Xinjiang Islam
Tibetan
藏族
45.931 Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan Lamaism
Tu
土族
1.926 Qinghai, Gansu Lamaism
Tujia
土家族
57.250 Hunan, Hubei Lamaism
Uygur
维吾尔族
72.070 Xinjiang Islam
Uzbek
乌孜别克族
0.148 Xinjiang Islam
Va
佤族
3.520 Yunnan Buddhism
Xibe
锡伯族
1.729 Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin Polytheism
Yao
瑶族
21.370 Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou Polytheism
Yi
彝族
65.785 Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi Polytheism
Yugur
裕固族
0.123 Gansu Lamaism
Zhuang
壮族
155.558 Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou Polytheism

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