Han people enjoy the largest population among China’s 56 nationalities and this population size also ranks first in the world. At present, the number of Han people has reached about 1.2 billion. Originally known as “Cathay”, Han people used to live in the central part of China; later, it assimilated and integrated with other nationalities and eventually boasts a 5 thousand years’ history of civilization. Since the beginning of Han Dynasty, the name “Han” was adopted to call this nationality. Han nationality has its own spoken and written language, which belong to Chinese-Tibetan language family. Its language falls into 8 categories of dialect, namely, dialect of northern China, dialect of south of the lower reaches of Yangtze River, Hunan dialect, Jiangxi dialect, Hakka dialect, dialect of southern Fujian, dialect of northern Fujian and Cantonese and the common language of these 8 dialects is Mandarin. Chinese letter is one of the most ancient letters in the world; it evolved from inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty and Nuchen letters and eventually became present-day Chinese characters. There are altogether over 80 thousand Chinese characters, among which about 7000 are commonly used. At present, Chinese has become one of the international languages. The staple food of Han people is grain crop and meat and vegetables are the non-staple foodstuffs. Over the long period of development, Han people have developed the habit of having three meals for each day and rice and flour serve as two major components of their staple food. In addition, other coarse crops, such as corn, sorghum, cereal and potato, are also part of the staple food in different regions of China. Due to various factors, there are varied types of cuisine in the food culture of Han people and when it comes to the Han and other nationalities’ preference of taste of food, people living in different parts of China are often termed as follows: the southern citizens are lovers of sweet food, the northern of salty food, the eastern of hot food and the western of sour food. At present, there are 8 typical cuisines with unique flavors in different parts of China, including Hunan cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, cuisine of northeastern China and Cantonese food. Wine and tea are two major beverages for Han people. Being the place of origin of tea and one of the first developers of brewing technology, China boasts long history of wine and tea culture. Except for wine and tea, some products made of fruits also serve as beverages for people in varied regions and seasons. There are myriads of festivals for Han people and China’s Lunar New Year is the most traditional one. Besides, the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of lunar calendar, the Tomb-sweeping day on Apr.5th, the Dragon Boat Festival on the 5th day of the fifth lunar month and the Middle Autumn Day on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month are also important festivals.
Zhuang nationality is one of the most populous minority nationalities in China and its people mainly live in compact community in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. It adopts Zhuang language, which belongs to the Chinese-Tibetan language family. Zhuang people is an aboriginal nationality in southern China and boasts a long history. The predecessors of Zhuang people began to live southern China as early as thousands of years ago and in 1958 the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was established. Zhuang people are mainly engaged in agricultural production and they usually plant rice and corn. They love singing and their community is famed as “the ocean of songs”. Delicate and elegant is the Zhuang brocade, which is the traditional handicraft of Zhuang people. Zhaung people used to worship the Nature and primitive religion based upon polytheism and during the period of Tang and Song Dynasty, Buddhism and Taoism were successively introduced to their community. After 1840, Christianity and Catholicism also came to this region, but their influence was limited.
Hui nationality has a population of more than 9.8 million, who mainly live in concentrated community in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwestern China. Besides, many Hui people either live in compact community or scatter in other parts of China and it is therefore fair to say that Hui people enjoy the largest distribution all across China. Most Hui people speak Chinese because they have lived with Han people for a long time and those who live with other minority nationality can also speak the corresponding language of that ethnic group. Some Hui people master Arabian and Persian. The origin of Hui nationality can be dated back to the 7th century A.D when Arabian and Persian merchants came to China for business expansion and then settled down in some southeastern coastal cities such as Guangzhou and Quanzhou; after several hundred years’ development, those people gradually became part of Hui nationality. In addition, in early 13th century A.D, a large number of middle Asians, Persians and Arabians were driven by wars to northwestern China and they gradually formed Hui nationality after assimilating with Han, Uygur and Mongolian nationality through marriage and religion. Hui people believe in Islam and they live around the mosques in their cities, townships and villages. They have their own dietetic habits and those restaurants and food stores scattered in many places of China with the name “Hui” or “Islam” are exclusively for Hui people. The level of economic and cultural development of Hui nationality is comparatively high, which plays an important role in China’s historical development.
Mongolian nationality has a population of over 5.8 million, who live in compact community in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and other autonomous prefectures or counties for Mongolian people in Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. They speak Mongolian, which belongs to the Altai language family. The name “Mongolia” first appeared in Tang Dynasty when it was just used to call a certain tribe among Mongolian community. This tribe originated in the eastern bank of Erguna River and then moved westward. At that time, Mongolian community was haunted by protracted wars among tribes for pillaging people, livestock and wealth. In 1206, Tiemuzhen was chosen as the Khan of Mongolia known as Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Kingdom was established, marking the birth of Mongolian nationality, the first strong, stable and development-oriented ethnic group in northern China. Henceforth, Genghis Khan unified all Mongolian tribes and China before the establishment of Yuan Dynasty. Most Mongolian people believe in Lamaism and they have made great contribution in many fields in China, including politics, military affairs, economy, science and technology, astronomical calculation, culture, art and medical science.