Han Ethnic Group

The Han ethnic group has the largest population in China as well as in the world. The Han people account for 91.59% of China's total population. According to the statistics of 2010, there were 1,220,844,520 Han people, 90.56% of China's total population. The Han people are descendents of the ancient Huaxia people and other peoples in China. The name Han originates from the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.). 


1,220,844,520 (2010)

Main Areas Inhabited by Han

Han people are inhabited all over the country.


The Han people's language is Chinese, writes with Chinese characters and belongs to Sino-Tibetan family. According to the common classification method of academia, the Hans language can be divided into the Northern dialect, Wu dialect, Xiang dialect, Gan dialect, Hakka, Fujian dialect and Cantonese dialect.


On the basis of ancestor worship, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, are the main religions of the Han people. Many people also belong to various Christian denominations due to the influence of western culture.

Han People

National Totem

Due to Han people have account for most of the Chinese history development, so they take the oldest animal dragon as their symbol. The Chinese dragon is the symbol of the Chinese nation, they are proud of themselves as "descendants of the dragon".


The Han people are always famous for its industrious and frugal and full of creative spirit. Han people’s economy is given priority to with agriculture, engaged in household sideline production, such as handicraft industry, business.


The Han nationality created a splendid culture and art in ancient times. They have numerous far-reaching representative personages and works no matter in the fields of political, military, philosophy, economy, history, science, literature, art or others. 


Chinese has a rich history of classical literature dating back several thousand years. Important early works include classics texts such as Analects of Confucius (lunyu), the Book of History (Shangshu ),  Book Of Changes (Zhouyi),  the Classic of Poetry (Shijing), Rites of Zhou (Zhouli),  Classic of the Virtue of the Tao (Tao Te Ching), Sun Tzu's Art of War (Sun Zi Bing Fa), etc.. Some of the most important Han Chinese poets in the pre-modern era include Li Bai, Du Fu, and Su Dongpo. The most important novels in Chinese literature, or the Four Great Classical Novels, are: Dream of the Red Chamber, Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Journey to the West.

Han Festival


Because of the overwhelming numerical and cultural dominance of the Han people in China, most of the written history of China can be read as "a history of the Han Chinese", with only passing references to the ethnic minorities in China.

◎Prehistory and the Huaxia

The history of the Han Chinese ethnic group is closely tied to that of China. Han Chinese trace their ancestry back to the Huaxia people, who lived along the Huang He or Yellow River in northern China. The famous Chinese historian Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian places the reign of the Yellow Emperor, the legendary ancestor of the Han Chinese, at the beginning of Chinese history. He is traditionally considered to have united the Huaxia following the Battle of Banquan.

Although study of this period of history is complicated by lack of historical records, discovery of archaeological sites have identified a succession of Neolithic cultures along the Yellow River. Along the central reaches of the Yellow River were the Jiahu culture (ca. 7000 BCE to 6600 BCE), Yangshao culture (ca. 5000 BCE to 3000 BCE) and Longshan culture (ca. 3000 BCE to 2000 BCE). Along the lower reaches of the river were the Qingliangang culture (ca. 5400 BCE to 4000 BCE), the Dawenkou culture (ca. 4300 BCE to 2500 BCE), the Longshan culture (ca. 2500 BCE to 2000 BCE), and the Yueshi culture.

◎Early history

The first dynasty to be described in Chinese historical records is the Xia Dynasty, a legendary period for which scant archaeological evidence exists. They were overthrown by peoples from the east, who founded the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE). The earliest archaeological examples of Chinese writing date back to this period, from characters inscribed on oracle bone divination, but the well-developed oracle characters hint at a much earlier origin of writing in China.

During the Shang Dynasty, people of the Wu area, in the Yangtze River Delta, were considered a different tribe, and were described as being scantily dressed and tattooed. Later Taibo, elder uncle of King Wen of Zhou, realising that his younger brother, Jili, was wiser than him and deserved to inherit the throne, fled to Wu and settled there. Three generations later, King Wu of Zhou defeated the last Yin emperor, and enfeoffed the descendants of Taibo in Wu, this mirrors the later history of Nanyue, where a Chinese king and his soldiers ruled a local non-Han population, and mixed with the local inhabitants who were sinicized over time. By the Tang Dynasty, however, this area had become part of the Han Chinese heartland. The Shang were eventually overthrown by the people of Zhou, which had emerged as a state along the Yellow River in the 2nd millennium BC.

The Zhou Dynasty was the successor to the Shang. Sharing the language and culture of the Shang people, they extended their reach to encompass much of the area north of the Yangtze River. Through conquest and colonization, much of this area came under the influence of sinicization and the proto-Han Chinese culture extended south. However, the power of the Zhou kings fragmented, and many independent states emerged. This period is traditionally divided into two parts, the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States period. This period was an era of major cultural and philosophical development known as the Hundred Schools of Thought. Among the most important surviving philosophies from this era are the teachings of Confucianism and Taoism.

Han Custom

◎Imperial history

Many Chinese scholars such as Ho Ping-Ti believe that the concept of a Han ethnicity is an ancient one, dating from the Han Dynasty itself.[23] The era of the Warring States came to an end with the unification of China by the Qin Dynasty after it conquered all other rival states. Its leader, Qin Shi Huang, declared himself the first emperor, using a newly created title, thus setting the precedent for the next two millennia. He established a new centralized and bureaucratic state to replace the old feudal system, creating many of the institutions of imperial China, and unified the country economically and culturally by decreeing a unified standard of weights, measures, currency, and writing.

However, the reign of the first imperial dynasty was to be short-lived. Due to the first emperor's autocratic rule, and his massive construction projects such as the Great Wall which fomented rebellion into the populace, the dynasty fell soon after his death. The Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) emerged from the succession struggle and succeeded in establishing a much longer lasting dynasty. It continued many of the institutions created by Qin Shi Huang but adopted a more moderate rule. Under the Han Dynasty, arts and culture flourished, while the dynasty expanded militarily in all directions. This period is considered one of the greatest periods of the history of China, and the Han Chinese take their name from this dynasty.

The fall of the Han Dynasty was followed by an age of fragmentation and several centuries of disunity amid warfare by rival kingdoms. During this time, areas of northern China were overrun by various non-Han nomadic peoples which came to establish kingdoms of their own, the most successful of which was Northern Wei established by the Xianbei. Starting from this period, the native population of China proper began to be referred to as Hanren, or the "People of Han", to distinguish from the nomads from the steppe; "Han" refers to the old dynasty. Warfare and invasion led to one of the first great migrations in Han population history, as the population fled south to the Yangtze and beyond, shifting the Chinese demographic center south and speeding up Sinicization of the far south. At the same time, in the north, most of the nomads in northern China came to be Sinicized as they ruled over large Chinese populations and adopted elements of Chinese culture and Chinese administration. Of note, the Xianbei rulers of the Northern Wei ordered a policy of systematic Sinicization, adopting Han surnames, institutions, and culture.

The Sui (581–618) and Tang Dynasties (618–907) saw the continuation of the complete Sinicization of the south coast of what is now China proper, including what are now the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. The later part of the Tang Dynasty, as well as the Five Dynasties period that followed, saw continual warfare in north and central China; the relative stability of the south coast made it an attractive destination for refugees.

The next few centuries saw successive invasions of non-Han peoples from the north, such as the Khitans and Jurchens. In 1279 the Mongols (Yuan Dynasty) conquered all of China, becoming the first non-Han to do so. The Mongols divided society into four classes, with themselves occupying the top class and Han Chinese into the bottom two classes. The Song and Yuan dynasties banned emigration, seen as disloyalty to ancestors and ancestral land, and foresaw severe penalties for it.

In 1368 Han Chinese rebels drove out the Mongols and, after some infighting, established the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Settlement of Han Chinese into peripheral regions continued during this period, with Yunnan in the southwest receiving a large number of migrants.

In 1644, Beijing was captured by Li Zicheng's peasant rebels and the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen committed suicide. The Manchus (Qing Dynasty) then allied with Ming Dynasty general Wu Sangui and seized control of Beijing. Remnant Ming forces led by Koxinga fled to Taiwan, where they eventually capitulated to Qing forces in 1683. Taiwan, previously inhabited mostly by non-Han aborigines, was Sinicized via large-scale migration accompanied with assimilation during this period, despite efforts by the Manchus to prevent this, as they found it difficult to maintain control over the island. In 1681, the emperor ordered construction of the Willow Palisade to prevent Han Chinese migration to the three northeastern provinces, which nevertheless harbored a significant Chinese population for centuries, especially in the southern Liaodong area. The Manchus designated the provinces as "Manchuria", to which the Manchus could hypothetically escape and regroup if the dynasty fell.But because of increasing Russian territorial encroachment and annexation of neighboring territory, the Qing later reversed its policy and allowed the consolidation of a demographic Han majority in northeast China.

In the 19th century, Chinese migrants went in large numbers to other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia, Australia, and North America. See Overseas Chinese.

◎Recent history

Prior to the 20th century, some Chinese-speaking groups like the Hakka and the Tanka were not universally accepted as Han Chinese, while some non-Chinese speaking peoples, like the Zhuang, were sometimes considered Han.[26] During the Qing Dynasty, Han Chinese who had entered the Eight Banners military system were considered Manchu, while Chinese nationalists seeking to overthrow the monarchy stressed Han Chinese identity in contrast to the Manchu rulers. Upon its founding in 1912, the Republic of China recognized five major ethnic groups: the Han, Hui, Mongols, Manchus, and Tibetans.

Today, Hui are considered a separate ethnic group, but aside from their practice of Islam, little distinguishes them from the Han; two Han from different regions might differ more in language, customs, and culture than a neighboring Han and Hui. Today, the People's Republic of China (which succeeded the ROC on the mainland in 1949) now recognizes fifty-six ethnic groups. Since 1949, the Republic of China has retreated to Taiwan, bringing about one million refugees with it, further augmenting the population of Taiwan. In the 1980s, the one-child policy was introduced in People's Republic to regulate population growth, which only applies to the Han.

Chinese migration overseas has also continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. The returning of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 prompted large waves of Hong Kong Chinese migration to North America, Australia, and elsewhere.[28] Chinese presences have also been established in Europe as well as Russia, especially the Russian Far East.

Han Clothing


In the past 12,000 years, the Han Chinese have created numerous inventions, among, the Four Great Inventions are most famous: papermaking, the compass, gunpowder and printing (both woodblock and movable type). 


Nowadays, most of the Han men wear Sun Yat-sen Uniforms, western suits, shirts, jackets and western trousers, while most women wear short coats, shirts, trousers, skirts and cheongsams in various styles.


The staple food of Han is rice and wheat. Rice is versatile and can be served in a variety of ways including porridge, rice cake, glutinous rice dumpling and rice noodles. Wheat is used in the production of steamed bread, noodles, steamed stuffed buns and wonton. Han people living in different regions of China have formed unique styles of cooking. The eight cuisines are the representative.

Tea and alcohol are the Chinese traditional drinks. The Han Chinese likes to entertain their honored guests with Chinese tea and alcoholic drinks.

Han Building


All the houses of Han are suggested to be positioned in the north facing south to catch the maximum sunlight. House styles and materials of the Han people vary in different regions of China. Those built in North China are mostly made of bricks in the courtyard style. The courtyard (Sihe Yuan) in Beijing is a representative. For houses in Northeast China, the style is almost the same as that in North China except for the walls. As Northeastern China is extremely cold, walls are built thicker and more solid than those of other places to retain warmth. However, in southern China, the Han people build their houses mainly of timber. The unique style of their buildings can be admired in the earthen buildings (tulou) in Fujian and pavilions in Suzhou.


Nowadays Han people practice monogamy. The man can also marry to the woman home, called the door son-in-law. Besides, the child brides and a man with a wife and many concubines is widespread in the old days.


The mass-tone attune of the Chinese traditional funeral is white, also known as funeral affairs. According to the beliefs and economic conditions of the dead, the whole process often mixed with Buddhism, Taoism and geomancy ritual.


Han people have many festivals, some of the festivals that Han people celebrated include Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Pure Brightness Festival (Qingming Festival), Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Festival, Double Ninth Festival, Laba Festival and Winter Solstice Festival. 

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Questions & Answers about Han Ethnic Group

Asked by byron e kwan from fiji 2014-08-17

are han chinese descended from japheth son of noah?

Answered by Trip China Guide    2014-08-18

Han Chinese don't believe in the Bible at all. Han Chinese civilization is one of the oldest in the world. The Han Chinese have their own creation of myths and doctrines. But today most Chinese are materialists, they do not put their faith in gods and myths.

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