China's Ethnic Groups
Fifty-six ethnic groups
China is a united multi-ethnic nation of 56 ethnic groups.
As the majority (91.6 percent) of the population is
of the Han ethnic group, China's other 55 ethnic groups
are customarily referred to as ethnic minorities.
The Han people can be found throughout
the country, mainly on the middle and lower reaches
of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Pearl
River valleys, and the Northeast Plain. The 55 ethnic
minorities, though fewer in number, are also scattered
over vast areas and can be found in approximately 64.3
percent of China, mainly distributed in the border areas
of northeast, north, northwest and southwest China.
Yunnan Province, home to more than 20 ethnic groups,
has the greatest diversity of ethnic groups in China.
Over China's long history, repeated instances
of ethnic group migrations, opening up new land for
cultivation, emigration, relocation of the ruling dynasty,
and a host of other reasons, gave rise to the situation
of ¡°living together over vast areas while
some living in compact communities in small areas.¡±
This continues to provide the practical basis for political,
economic and cultural intercourse between the Han and
the various minority peoples, and for the functioning
of the regional ethnic autonomy system.
Regional ethnic autonomy
Regional Ethnic Autonomy Equality, unity, mutual help
and common prosperity are the basic principles of the
Chinese government in handling the relations between
ethnic groups. In accordance with these basic principles,
China practices a regional ethnic autonomy system. Where
ethnic minorities live in compact communities, autonomous
organs of self-government are established under the
unified leadership of the state.
The minority people exercise autonomous rights, are
masters in their own areas and administer their own
internal affairs. Besides, the state makes great efforts
to train ethnic minority cadres and professional technicians
in institutions of higher learning, and universities,
colleges and cadre schools for ethnic minorities. The
Central Government also actively aids the ethnic autonomous
areas with funds and materials so as to promote the
development of the local economies and cultures.
The Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy adopted
in 1984 at the Second Session of the Sixth NPC is the
basic law specifically guaranteeing that the constitutionally
decreed regional ethnic autonomy system is carried out.
Today, in addition to the five autonomous regions (Inner
Mongolia, Xinjiang Uygur, Guangxi Zhuang, Ningxia Hui,
and Tibet autonomous regions), China has 30 autonomous
prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (known, in some
cases, as "banners"), as well as over 1,100
The organs of self-government in ethnic
autonomous areas are the people's congresses and people's
governments of autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures
and autonomous counties (banners). The chairperson or
vice-chairpersons of the standing committee of the people's
congress and the government head of an autonomous region,
autonomous prefecture or autonomous county (banner)
shall be citizens of the ethnic group exercising regional
autonomy in the area concerned.
Brief Intro. of China