Ethnic Geography of China


Most of the Chinese ethnic groups live in the periphery of China, near the national borders, in lands not suitable for the wet rice cultivation that characterizes Chinese way of life. Most of their lands are poor, forest, mountains, and deserts, are common in them.

-Yunnan Province: Population: 43,000,000. Area: 413,000 sq km.

It is the Far South of China. The last province included in the Chinese empire, as late as 14th century. Yunnan is the Ethnic China, with more than 400 ethnic groups who claimed to be recognized as National Minorities during the national campaign of ethnic differentiation carried out in 1950s. With different climates, altitudes and environments, ranging from tropical forest to pre-Himalayic mountains ranges, is the home of ethnic groups with well differentiated cultures and customs. Living high in the mountains, we can find Miao and Yao peoples in the south, and Yi related peoples in the north. The middle elevations are populated by Hani, Wa, Lisu, Lahu, Nu, and other peoples. Lowlands are the place of the Dai and the Zhuang in the south, and the Naxi and Bai in the north.

- Guizhou Province: Population: 39,800,000. Area: 170,000 sq km.

Guizhou was the Miao country until the wars that devastated the province in 19th century. Poor, wet and with a topography characterized by mountains and ravines, it is the home of many varieties of Miao, especially in the mountains, and Dong, Buyi, Shui and other peoples who live in the lowlands.

- Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region: Population: 44,000,000. Area: 220,000 sq km.

Home of the Zhuang, with its many branches, the Yao with more than 15 branches also in Guangxi, and other 8 officially recognized National minorities; Dong, Miao, Mulao, Maonan, Yi, etc.

- Hunan province. Population: 64,000,000. Area: 210,000 sq km.

The south and the east of Hunan are populated by the Dong, Miao, Yao and Tujia.

With one autonomous prefecture and some autonomous counties.

- Sichuan province: Population: 83,000,000. Area: 487,000 sq km.

While the east part of Sichuan is Chinese in its pure tradition, the south and western part are completely indigenous. With the Yi (Nosu) in the south, the Khampa Tibetan in the west, and between them, in an ethnic corridor who runs north south, the Qiang and some peoples not yet recognized who speak Qiangic languages. With three big autonomous prefectures: Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (including Wenchuan County, Beichuan County), Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

- Gansu Province. Population: 24,300,000. Area: 450,000 sq km.

With important Muslim and Mongolian communities in the north, Tibetan in the south, and small population ethnic groups related to them: Yugur, Baoan


- Qinghai Province. Population: 4,800,000. Area: 720,000 sq km.

Qinghai is inhabited mainly by Mongolian and Tibetan communities. The Tibetans from Qinghai, nomads in its high plateaus, have a distinct way of life.


- Guangdong Province. Population: 68,600,000. Area: 186,000 sq km.

In its mountain northwest live some branches of the Yao (Paiyao) and some She communities.


- Hainan Province. Population: 7,200,000. Area: 34,000 sq km.

Li peoples with its different branches inhabit in the mountains of the center of this tropical island


- Chongqing Municipality. Population: 30,000,000. Area: 82,000 sq km.

With some Tujia and Miao Autonomous Districts established in the south.


- Hubei Province. Population: 60,000,000. Area: 187,000 sq km.

With some communities of Tujia and Miao


- Tibet Autonomous Region. Population: 2,300,000. Area: 1,221,000 sq km.

Mainly inhabited by Tibetans and some small groups in the south, as Mompa, Lopa, and Dengpa.


- Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Population: 16,000,000. Area: 1,650,000 sq km.

Xinjiang is the biggest administrative entity of China. Arid land with many deserts is populated by Uygur, Kazak, Mongolian, and other peoples from Central Asia.


- Mongolian Autonomous Region. Population: 24,000,000. Area: 1,183,000 sq km.

It is inhabited by different stocks of Mongolians.


- Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Population: 5,030,000. Area: 66,321 sq km.

A recently established autonomous region to give some degree of autonomy to the Hui religious minority.


- Heilongjiang Province. Population: 37,000,000. Area: 469,000 sq km.

Inhabited by some peoples who speak Man-Tungus languages, as the Hezhe, Elunchun, Ewenki and Mongolians.


- Zhejiang Province. Population: 43,000,000. Area: 100,000 sq km.

With some She communities in the south of the province


- Fujian Province. Population: 32,000,000. Area: 120,000 sq km.

Some She communities live in the west of the province.


- Beijing Municipality. Population: 12,500,000. Area: 16,800 sq km.

Beijing is one place with a lot of interest for the people interested in Chinese Minorities.

In Beijing are some bookstores as: Sanlian Bookstore and Beijing Book Center, with a lot of books, in Chinese, about Chinese minorities.

Nationalities Press (Minzu chubanshi) and Central Nationalities Press (Zhongyang Minzu Chubanshi) are also in Beijing

The Central University of Nationalities (Minzu Daxue), the Palace of Nationalities (Minzu wenguagong) and the China Ethnic Park (Zhonghua minzu yuan) are also in Beijing.

© Copyright 2007


Buy books related to China Ethnic Groups and help to develop this web