Chinas population

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China is a multinational country, with a population composed of a large number of ethnic and linguistic groups. Almost all its inhabitants are of Mongoloid stock: thus, the basic classification of the population is not so much Han ethnic as linguistic. The Han (Chinese), the largest group, (Chinese) outnumber the minority groups or minority nationalities in every province or autonomous region except Tibet and Sinkiang. The Han. therefore, form the great homogeneous mass of the Chinese people, sharing the same culture, the same traditions, and the same written lan-guage. Some 55 minority groups are spread over approximately 60 per-cent of the total area of the country. Where these minority groups are found in large numbers, they have been given some semblance of auton-omy and self-government; autonomous regions of several types have been established on the basis of the geographical distribution of nationali-ties.

The government takes great credit for its treatment of these minori-ties, including care for their economic well-being, the raising of their liv-ing standards, the provision of educational facilities, the promotion of their national languages and cultures, and the raising of their levels of literacy, as well as for the introduction of a written language where none existed previously. In this connection it may be noted that, of the 50-odd minority languages, only 20 had written forms before the coming of the Communists; and only relatively few written languages, for example, Mongolian. Tibetan. Uighur, Kazakh, Tai, and Korean, were in everyday use. Other written languages were used chiefly for religious purposes and by a limited number of persons. Educational institutions for national mi-norities are a feature of many large cities, notably Peking, Wuhan, Ch'eng-tu. and Lan-chou.

Four major language families are represented in China: the Sino-Tibetan. Altaic. Indo-European, and Austro-Asiatic. The Sino-Tibetan family, both numerically and in the extent of its distribution, is the most important; within this family, Han Chinese is the most widely spoken language. Although unified by their tradition, the written characters of their language, and many cultural traits, the Han speak several mutually unintelligible dialects and display marked regional differences. By far the most important Chinese tongue is the Mandarin, or p'u-l'ung hua, mean-ing "ordinary language" or "common language". There are three variants of Mandarin. The first of these is the northern variant, of which the Pe-king dialect, or Peking hua, is typical and which is spoken to the north of the Tsinling Mountains-Huai River line: as the most widespread Chinese tongue, it has officially been adopted as the basis for a national language. The second is the western variant, also known as the Ch'eng-tu or Upper Yangtze variant; this is spoken in the Szechwan Basin and in adjoining parts of south-west China. The third is the southern variant, also known as the Nanking or Lower Yangtze variant, which is spoken in northern Kiangsu and in southern and central Anhwei Related to Mandarin are the Hunan, or Hsiang, dialect, spoken by people in central and southern Hu-nan, and the Kan dialect. The Hui-chou dialect, spoken in southern Anhwei, forms an enclave within the southern Mandarin area.

Less intelligible to Mandarin speakers are the dialects of the south-east coastal region, stretching from Shanghai to Canton. The. most impor-tant of these is the Wu dialect, spoken in southern Kiangsu and in Chekiang. This is followed, to the south, by the Fu-chou, or Min. dialect of northern and central Fukien and by the Amoy-Swatow dialect of southern Fukien and easternmost Kwangtung. The Hakka dialect of southernmost Kiangsi and north-eastern Kwangtung has a rather scattered pattern of distribution. Probably the best known of these southern dialects is Cantonese, which is spoken in central and western Kwangtung and in southern Kwangsi a dialect area in which a large proportion of overseas Chinese originated.

In addition to the Han, the Manchu and the Hui (Chinese Muslims) also speak Mandarin and use Chinese characters. Manchu The Hui are descendants of Chinese who adopted Islam and Hui when it penetrated into China in the 7th century. They are intermingled with the Han throughout much of the country and are distinguished as Hui only in the area of their heaviest concentration, the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningsia. Other Hui communities are organised as autonomous prefectures (tzu-chih-cfiou) in Sinkiang and as autonomous counties (tzu-chih-hsien) in Tsinghai. Hopeh. Kweichow, and Yunnan. There has been a growing tendency for the Hui to move from their scattered settlements into the area of major concentration, possibly, as firm adherents of Islam, in order to facilitate intermarriage with other Muslims.

The Manchu declare themselves to be descendants of the Manchu warriors who invaded China in the 17th century and founded the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911/12). Ancient Manchu is virtually a dead language, and the Manchu have been completely assimilated into Han Chinese culture. They are found mainly in North China and the Northeast, but they form no separate autonomous areas above the commune level. Some say the Koreans of the Northeast, who form an autonomous prefecture in eastern Kirin, cannot be assigned with certainty to any of the standard language classifications.

The Chuang-chia, or Chuang, are China's largest minority group. Most of them live in the Chuang Autonomous Region of Kwangsi. They are also represented in national autonomous areas in neighbouring Yun-nan and Kwangtung. They depend mainly on the cultivation of rice for their livelihood In religion they are animists, worshiping particularly the spirits of their ancestors, The Puyi (Chung-chia) group are concentrated in southern Kweichow, where they share an autonomous prefecture with the Miao group. The T'ung group are settled in small communities in Kwangsi and Kweichow; they share with the Miao group an autonomous prefecture set up in south-east Kweichow in 1956. The Tai group are concentrated in southern Yunnan and were established in two autonomous prefecturesone whose population is related most closely to the Tai of northern Thailand and another whose Tai are related to the Shan people of Burma. The Li of Hai-nan Island form a separate group of the Chinese-Tai language branch. They share with the Miao people a district in southern Hai-nan.

Tibetans are distributed over the entire Tsinghai-Tibetan plateau. Outside Tibet, Tibetan minorities constitute autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties. There are five Tibetan autonomous prefectures in Tsinghai, two in Szechwan, and one each in Yunnan and Kansu. The Ti-betans still keep their tribal characteristics, but few of them are nomadic. Though essentially farmers, they also raise livestock and, as with other tribal peoples in the Chinese far west, also hunt to supplement their food supply. The major religion of Tibet has been Tibetan Buddhism since about the 17th century; before 1959 the social and political institutions of this region were still based largely on this faith. Many of the Yi (Lolo) were concentrated in two autonomous prefecturesone in southern Sze-chwan and another in northern Yunnan. They raise crops and sometimes keep flocks and herds.

The Miao-Yao branch, with their major concentration in Kweichow, are distributed throughout the central south and south-western provinces and are found also in some small areas in east China. They are subdivided into many rather distinct groupings. Most of them have now lost their tra-ditional tribal traits through the influence of the Han, and it is only their language that serves to distinguish them as tribal peoples. Two-thirds of the Miao are settled in Kweichow, where they share two autonomous pre-fectures with the T'ung and Puyi groups. The Yao people are concen-trated in the Kwangsi-Kwangtung-Hunan border area.

In some areas of China, especially in the south-west, there are many different ethnic groups that are geographically intermixed. Because of language barriers and different economic structures, these peoples all maintain their own cultural traits and live in relative isolation from one another. In some places the Han are active in the towns and in the fertile river valleys, while the minority peoples depend for their livelihood on more primitive forms of agriculture or on grazing their livestock on hill-sides and mountains. The vertical distribution of these peoples is in zones usually the higher they live, the less complex

their way of life. In former times they did not mix well with one an-other, but now, with highways penetrating deep into their settlements, they have better opportunities to communicate with other groups and are also enjoying better living conditions.

While the minorities of the Sino-Tibetan language family are thus concentrated in the south and south-west, the second major language fam-ily the Altaic is represented entirely by minorities in north-western and northern China. The Altaic family falls into three branches: Turkic, Mongolian, and Manchu-Tungus. The Turkic language branch is by far the most numerous of the three Altaic branches. The Uighur, who are Mus-lims, form the

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