Ethnic Minority Groups of Yunnan

      Yunnan has the largest number of ethnic minorities in China. There are 25 officially recognized ethnic minorities in the province, accounting for less than a half of the total in China. The ethnic minorities scatter around Yunnan and mix with the majority of the Han Chinese, meanwhile, they have their own communities. Some ethnic groups live in valleys, some live on hilly areas, some inhabit flat lands. The local residences of the ethnic minorities all have their own styles. Traditional costumes of these minority groups are colorful and distinctive and the languages and cultures are all different from each other. The following is a brief introduction of some selected ethnic minorities in Yunnan.
Yi Nationality      The Yi group is the fourth largest of China's minorities with a total population more than 6 million in China, most of whom are in southwest China and it is the biggest minority group in Yunnan with a population of over 4 million. They have their own language both in written and spoken forms. Buckwheat, corn, and potatoes are stable on Yi diet, and they like drinking and smoking. The most famous festival of theirs is the "Torch Festival", which falls on June 24th on the Chinese calendar (Mid September). It is an "Orient Carnival" with bullfighting, wrestling, horse-racing, arrow-shooting in the daylight, however, it is highlighted by lit torches and bonfire party in the evening.
Bai Nationality     The Bai people have a population of more than 1.5 million, 85% of whom live in Dali, northwest Yunnan. They are the second biggest minority group in Yunnan. They have, unfortunately only spoken language. Rice is the stable food on their diet. They boast of a variety of food and handicrafts and festivals. The biggest festival of whom, is the "March Fair" celebrated between March 15th and March 20th on the Chinese calendar (April). It is a weeklong trade fair with folk song shows, horse-racing, etc.
Hani Nationality     The third largest group is Hani with a population of 1.3 million live in south and southeast of Yunnan. They are terraced paddy fields expert. Glutinous rice is often on their diet. Their most important festival is "Kuzhazha" celebrating starting on June 24th and last for 3 or 6 days. It is a time to honor the God of Rice. Young people play on the swing, sing and dance.
Zhuang Nationality     The Zhuang minority group is the largest one in China with a total population of more than 15 million in the country. The 1 million Zhuang in Yunnan live mainly in the east and southeast part of the province. They like glutinous rice in particular, glutinous wine and glutinous cake are often on their diet. The "Longduan Festival" is the most famous one of theirs celebrated in March on the Chinese calendar (April). Market and entertainment activities are on the agenda.
Dai Nationality     The Dai people have a population of more than 1 million who live in tropical area of southern Yunnan. The Dai and Thai in Thailand share many similarities. Rice is also the main food on Dai people's diet. The Dai cuisine is just as exotic as the place. The "Water-splashing Festival" is the biggest event for them. This festival starts on the third day of the Dai New Year and lasts for three days (April 13th to 15th). They splash water onto each other meaning best wishes. Besides the auspicious water, dragon-boat racing, elephant-foot dance and peacock dance are also in the program.
Miao Nationality     The Miao ethnic minority group has a total population of 7 million in China. The Miao inhabitants in Yunnan total less than 1 million and live in northeast and east part of the province. They like drinking particularly. The "Miao New Year" is the most important festival for them, and wine is, of course, a must for this occasion in addition to bullfighting, horse-racing, musical instrument playing competition.
Naxi Nationality     With a population of less than three hundred thousand, most of the Naxi people live around Lijiang. Wheat, rice, and corn are stable food on their diet. The biggest festival is "Sanduo Festival" observed on February 8th on the Chinese calendar (March) to honor "Sanduo", a legendary hero in Naxi mythology.
Wa Nationality     The Wa people have a population of more than three hundred thousand who live in the outlying southwestern tip of Yunnan. They are primitive religion believers with their most important festival of "Lamu Drum Festival". It is celebrated before the coming harvest season to honor the God of Drum. It is a time to pray for a bumper harvest.
Tibetan Nationality     The Tibetan group, with a total population of 4.5 million, mostly lives in Tibet autonomous region of China. While in Yunnan, the one hundred thousand of Tibetans mainly live around Shangri-La which is close to Tibet. Barley wine and butter tea are typical Tibetan drinks. "Tibetan New Year" is the biggest festival for them, which is an occasion to extend best wishes and feasts with Tibetan dances and folk songs, as well as horse-racing, wrestling etc.