Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture


Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture lies in the central southeast of Yunnan Province. With an area of 32.929 km² and a population of 4,130,463 inhabitants (2000 census) is one of the most densely populated prefectures in Yunnan. The prefecture capital is Mengzi, but before was Gejiu, that still keep some administrative services.

The prefecture is articulated as a sequence of river valleys surrounded by mountains. Of them the most important is the Red River (Honghe in Chinese) that cross the prefecture west-east. In some of these valleys the Chinese were established many centuries ago, as shows cities like Jianshui. Besides the Han Chinese, there are important nucleus of Dai and Zhuang populations also in the lowlands. The middle levels (1300-1500 meters) are inhabited mainly by different peoples of the Hani and Yi stock. Higher and poorer lands are the home of some Miao and Yao branches.

Honghe is famous in China for the tobacco that grows in the north and the tin in the central part. In the last years, the terraced fields of the Hani along the Red River have become one of the main turistic attractions of Yunnan Province.

In the north, Mile County is the home of the Axi and other branches of the Yi, the central part is the place where the Hani and the Han are the dominant populations. In the south, near the Vietnamese border, Hekou Yao Autonomous County, and Jinping Miao, Yao and Dai Autonomous County, are full of high mountains that make communications difficult. In Jinping are found also two ethnic groups not yet recognized as national minorities: The Kucong, nomads of the tropical forest; and the Mang, living in some mountains near Vietnam.

According to year 2000 census, their main populations were:

Han - 1,830,245 (44.31%)
Yi - - - 973,732 (23.57%)
Hani - -685,727 (16.6%)
Miao - -274,147 (6.64%)
Zhuang - 99,132 (2.4%)
Dai - - - 98,164 (2.38%)
Yao - - - 76,947 (1.86%)
Hui - - - 68,033 (1.65%)

There is an interesting population of near 4.000 Buyi with many cultural differences with the main Buyi population living in Guizhou Province.

Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous prefecture is subdivided into 13 county-level divisions.

- Autonomous counties:

- Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai Autonomous County. In the Vietnamese border. Poor and bad communicated, it receives important funds from overseas NGOs.
- Hekou Yao Autonomous County. Part of the County is a big natural reserve. Hekou City is growing very quickly as do the trade between China and Vietnam.
- Pingbian Miao Autonomous County.

- Municipalities:

- Gejiu. A nice city whose heart is a big lake surrounded by mountains.
- Kaiyuan.
- Mengzi. The new capital of Honghe Prefecture.

- Counties:

- Mile County. Famous for the Axi and their festivals, the tobacco industry and the giant Buda.
- Honghe County. Along the Red River.
- Luchun County.
- Luxi County.
- Jianshui. The old city of Jianshui has preserved some interesting family residences and one of the biggest Confucius Temples in southwest China.
- Yuanyang. More and more travelers go this county every year to know tha Hani terraced fields.
- Shiping County- There are three main branches of the Yi living in Shibing: Nisu, Pula and Shansu. The Nisu, according to the different traditional dresses and make-up, are locally known as "SanDao hong" (Three red bands) and "Hua yao" (Florid waist).

A sketch map of Honghe Prefecture

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