Chinese Ethnic Groups

China 's 56 ethnic groups form a united, multi-ethnic country with the Han people accounting for 91.59% of the total population and the rest are minority ethnic groups. As the majority of the population is of the Han ethnic group, China 's other ethnic groups are customarily referred to as the national minorities. The Han people can be found throughout the country, though mainly on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Pearl River valleys, and the Northwest Plain. The national minorities, though fewer in number, are also scattered over a vast area, in approximately 64.3 percent of Chinese territory, mainly distributed in the border regions from northeast China to north, northwest and southwest China. Yunna Province , home to more than 20 ethnic groups, has the greatest diversity of minority people in China . The largest minority ethnic groups is the Zhuang nationality, totaling about 15.6 million people while Lhoba, the smallest, has only more than 2,300 people. The Han people have their own spoken and written language, known as the Chinese language, which is commonly used throughout China . The Hui and Manchu ethnic groups also use the Han (Chinese) language. The other 53 ethnic groups have their own spoken languages and 23 ethnic groups have their own written languages. The name Han originated over two thousand years ago during the Han Dynasty.

In most of China 's cities and towns, two or more ethnic groups live together. Taking shape over China 's long history, this circumstance of different ethnic groups ˇ°living together in one area while still living in individual compact communities in special areasˇ± continues to provide the practical basis for political, economic and cultural intercourse between the Han and the various minority people, and for the functioning of the autonomous national minority areas system.


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