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01 July, 2007:
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Minority Languages

A Zhuang (壮族) woman in traditional dress

In addition to ethnic Chinese (汉人 han4ren2), China is home to over fifty officially recognized Ethnic Minorities, 少数民族 shao3shu1min2zu2. These groups are scattered throughout the country, and the government aims to allow them to preserve their traditional customs and lifestyle.

China's minorities are not only distinct in terms of culture and tradition, but also in terms of language. Almost all of the officially recognized minority groups speak their own language. These minority languages are more than dialects of Chinese; they are languages that come from different families and sometimes different parts of the world. Some have closer ties to Western Indo-European languages than they do to Chinese.

All of these languages are still spoken in China today. To learn more about Chinese minorities and the languages they speak, select one of the links below:

Ethnic Minorities Chart

Follow this link for a chart detailing China's ethnic minorities, their populations, where they live and the types of languages they speak.