Yunnan People

Yunnan, whose name literally means south of the clouds, is situated in the southwest of China. With over 2400 years of history, exotic indigenous cultural heritage, a pleasant climate and picturesque scenery, Yunnan is renowned tourist destination for millions of travelers every year. Yunnan is a perfect showpiece of China’s many natural wonders, rugged, wild, and unspoiled. Here we provide you the overview of Yunnan.

Population composition

Yunnan’s population is noted for the great complexity of its ethnolinguistic groups. Out of the total population, the Han (Chinese) form the bulk of both the city dwellers and the agricultural population on the plains and valleys devoted to rice cultivation. There are a large number of Hui (Chinese Muslims), the descendants of the immigrants sent in by China’s rulers to help govern the province after the 13th century. The non-Han population of Yunnan remains substantial; in addition to the Hui, it comprises more than 50 recognized ethnic minority groups, accounting for more than one-third of Yunnan’s population. In distribution, these groups are highly intermixed; not one county is inhabited by a single minority.

Ethnic Minorities

Yunnan is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the highest number of ethnic groups among the provinces and autonomous regions in China. Among the country’s 56 recognised ethnic groups, twenty-five are found in Yunnan. Some 38% of the province population are members of ethnic minorities, including the Yi, Bai, Hani, Tai, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Lahu, Wa, Nakhi, Yao, Tibetans, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jinuo, Mongols, Derung, Manchus, Sui, and Buyei. Several other groups are represented, but they live neither in compact settlements nor do they reach the required threshold of five thousand to be awarded the official status of being present in the province. Some groups, such as the Mosuo, who are officially recognised as part of the Naxi, have in the past claimed official status as a national minority, and are now recognised with the status of Mosuo people.

Settlement patterns

More than one-fourth of Yunnan’s population is classified as urban; the rest is rural. Urban growth of Yunnan has been marked by the emergence of medium-sized cities rather than giant metropolitan complexes. Important cities include Kunming,Qujing; Gejiu, the “tin capital”; Yuxi, a growing city some 60 miles (100 km) south of Kunming; Dali, at the junction of highways to Tibet and Myanmar; Chuxiong, a rising herbal medicine maker located halfway between Kunming and Dali.

Ethnic groups are widely distributed in the province. Some twenty-five minorities live in compact communities, each of which has a population of more than five thousand. Ten ethnic minorities living in border areas and river valleys include the Hui, Manchus, Bai, Naxi, Mongols, Zhuang, Dai, Achang, Buyei and Shui, with a combined population of 4.5 million; those in low mountainous areas are the Hani, Yao, Lahu, Va, Jingpo, Blang and Jino, with a combined population of 5 million; and those in high mountainous areas are Miao, Lisu, Tibetan, Pumi and Drung, with a total population of four million.

Yunnan Culture by Region