Ethnic Groups in China

24 Feb

There are 56 ethnic groups within China. The Han Chinese account for 91.59% of the population whereas the other 55 ethnic groups account for the remaining 8.41% these percentages are according to the Fifth National Population Census of 2000, which was conducted in November 2000.  This was out of a total of 1265.83 million people. From these figures one is able to conclude that excluding Han, who are the majority ethnic group in China, there are 55 minority nationalities. (Can,2004.5).

The 55 minority nationalities ‘live in areas constituting 50%-60% of the total land area of the country. For historical reasons, most of the minority people live in the frontier provinces and regions. ‘(Li et al, 2003)

‘With a population of 1159.4 million, the Han Chinese can be found in almost every part of China. They form the largest ethnic group within China and also the largest in the world.’ (Travel China Guide, 2013)

A list of the 55 minorities within China today

  Achang, Bai, Blang, Bonan, Bouyei, Chaoxian, Dai, Daur, Deang, Dong, Dongxiang, Dulong, Ewenki, Gaoshan, Gelao, Gin, Hani, Hezhen, Hui, Jingpo, Jino, Kazak, Kirgiz, Lahu, Li, Lisu, Luoba, Man, Maonan, Miao, Monba, Mongol, Mulam, Naxi, Nu, Oroqen, Primi, Qiang, Russ, Salar, She, Shui, Tagik, Tatar, Tu, Tujia, Uygur, Uzbek, Wa,  Xibe, Yao, Yi, Yugur, Zang, Zhuang

The following map highlights the distribution of ethnic groups within China:


Can, W. (2004.5) Ethnic Groups in China. China Intercontinental Press

Li, X. and Pin, L. and Bingquing, Y. and Peijin, L. (2003) China’s Ethnic Minorities. China: Foreign Languages Press

Travel China Guide (2013) Available from: [Accessed 20 February 2013]


2 Responses to “Ethnic Groups in China”

  1. cjf3g11 February 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Han nationality is the largest ethnic group in China and in the world, it has a population of approximately 1.16 billion which accounts for 19% of the world’s population, and over 99% of them live in China. For the other percentage that live in other countries the Han Chinese has become one of the main ethnic groups in those countries as well.

    Although the population of the Han Chinese is vast it does hold diversity within the nationality. For example the language is divided into seven dialects and written in two forms – the traditional and simplified Chinese characters. The Han nationality also has different religions; Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity.

    However, even though there is diversity within the Han Nationality; that constitutes most of the Chinese population, China still faces challenges about how to reunite national borders with ethnic ones.

  2. samhemming March 4, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Both cjf3g11 and lo2g11 have used the words nationality and ethnicity somewhat interchangeably. This is understandable given China’s history as an empire where different nationalities and other identities lived under a Chinese empire. However in current times with China being a ‘nation’ the situation is complicated. How should these different cultures, ethnicities or ‘nationalities’ be defined in the context of their position within China as a nation? With the rise of Communist China the Stalinist belief that a nation was defined by a common language, historical culture and territory was adopted leading to the foundation of China’s autonomous regions.
    There appears to be a discrepancy between nationality and ethnicity in China, maybe due somewhat to the creation of those autonomous regions. The massive Han majority in China, including all the autonomous regions except Tibet, appears to have made to be Han to be Chinese. This can have repercussions on other ethnicities. Some seem to argue that there is a Chinese belief that their national integrity is threatened by ethnic pluralism which has led to a government policy of ‘Hanification,’ where other ethnicities suffer for the advancement of the Han. Such issues could however simply be seen as just another form of racial prejudice as is evident across the globe.

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