China People

China Population


Of the population of China, more than 92% are Chinese (Han). They speak Chinese with numerous dialects (Chinese language and writing). About 8% of the population belong to the national minorities, who live mainly in the sparsely populated southwest, western and northwest border regions, partly in autonomous areas where the language of the respective minority is also the official language. 56 minorities are officially recognized. The largest include Zhuang , Hui , Manchu , Uighurs , Miao and Tibetans. In some minority regions, economic “modernization” combined with the settlement and increased presence of Han Chinese led to conflict. The central government is also exerting strong political and social pressure, especially in Tibet and Sinkiang , on the grounds of cracking down on separatism and extremism.

National minorities in China

National minorities in the PR China (selection) 1)
people Population(in millions) Main residential areas
Zhuang, Chuang, Tschuang 16.9 Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong
Hui, Huei 10.6 Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Sinkiang, Qinghai, Yunnan, Hebei, Shandong
Manchu, Manchu, Manju 10.4 Liaoning, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Beijing
Uyghurs, Uyghurs 10.1 Sinkiang
Miao, Hmong, Hmu, Meau, Meo 9.4 Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan, Hubei
Yi, Ji, I, Lolo 8.7 Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou
Tujia, Tuja, Tuchia, Piseko 8.4 Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou
Tibetans, Bod, Bodpa 6.3 Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan
Mongols 6.0 Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Jilin, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Sinkiang, Qinghai, Henan
Buyei, Bouyei, Pu-i 2.9 Guizhou, Yunnan
Dong, dung, tung 2.9 Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi, Hubei
Yao, Dao, Jao, Man, Mien 2.8 Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou
Bai, Pai, Minchia 1.9 Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan
Korean 1.8 Jilin, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia
Hani, woni 1.7 Yunnan
Kazakhs 1.5 Sinkiang
Li, Loi, K’lai 1.5 Hainan, Guizhou
1) Population: 2010 census

The population distribution is very unequal; Around 90% of the population live in the economically more developed areas east of an imaginary line from northeast Heilongjiang to western Yunnan. Although large migration flows within the country began in the 19th century, especially from the eastern core areas to the northeast, northwest, western and southwest provinces, the uneven spatial distribution changed little even with the rapidly growing population (1935: around 470 million.; 2019: 1.4 billion). Since the late 1970s, around 100 to 150 million of the rural population migrated from the inland provinces to the coastal regions in order to find work.

According to Trackaah, the biggest cities in China are as follows:

Biggest Cities (Residents ; Status: 2017)
total urban population
entire administrative area 1) of which actual urban area
Shanghai 24 240 000 2) 20 850 000
Beijing 21 542 000 2) 18 574 000
Shenzhen 10 358 400 3) 12 496 000
Guangzhou(Canton) 12 701 900 3) 12 489 000
Tianjin (Tientsin) 15 600 000 2) 12 040 000
Cheng you 16 044 700 8 901 100
Wuhan 10 892 900 8 718 700
Chongqing 31 018 000 2) 7 770 500
Dongguan 8 220 200 3) 7 497 000
Foshan 7 197 400 3) 7 271 000
1) with rural outskirts2) 2018 (estimate)

3) 2010 (census)

Overall, the population density increased from 48 residents / km 2 (1935) to 148 residents / km 2 today. However, there are considerable regional differences. The population density in Shanghai – under the government and at the same time the largest city in China – is almost 4,000 residents / km 2 and in Tibet only 3 residents / km 2. The proportion of the rural population in the total population has more than halved since the People’s Republic was founded (1949) to 39% today. However, a large part of the rural population lives in regions near cities. This is particularly evident in the example of the city of Tianjin. It has around 13 million residents (last census from 2010), but just under 4 million are “urban” residents.

Free internal migration has been restricted since 1948 by a system of administrative residence control (“Hukou”). Urban immigrants remain registered at their original place of residence. Some of them are not entitled to social benefits at their current place of residence (e.g. city health insurance) or to a place in a public school. Today, the Hukou system is handled differently from region to region, new registrations are allowed within certain limits, more in medium-sized cities, less in metropolises with millions of people. Occasionally, the differences between urban and rural Hukou were completely eliminated.

To reduce the strong population growth, birth controls were carried out as early as the mid-1950s and tightened from 1962 and 1972, e.g. B. by setting a minimum age at marriage and limiting it to two children. The impact was limited, especially in rural areas. With the beginning of the economic reforms in the early 1980s, the requirements or the disadvantages of non-observance of the »one-child policy« introduced in 1979 were considerably tightened (e.g. fines, withdrawal of social benefits, job loss). Even if these measures were implemented more strongly in cities than in rural areas, the consequences for the whole of China are clearly noticeable. Since the beginning of the 1970s, the previously very high birth rate has fallen from more than 3% (1978) to only 1.2% today; it is one of the lowest in the world. The death rate decreased from 2% to 0.6% between 1949 and 1978 and has changed only slightly since then. Life expectancy increased from around 60 years (1960s to early 1980s) to 76 years. The natural growth of the population slowed down and the aging of society accelerated: In 1953, only 4% of the population were over 65 years of age, today the proportion is around 12%.

Due to the widespread abortion of female fetuses (striving for a male offspring based on cultural history), the gender ratio has also changed. In some regions there is already a disproportion between male and female newborns of 120 to 100. From 2013, the restrictive population policy, especially for the rural population, was relaxed, and by the end of 2015 the “one-child policy” was abolished entirely and a second one for couples Child was allowed. Still, one-child families are the rule in cities today. At the end of the 2010s, around 280 million Chinese had grown up without siblings.

Living situation: Regardless of all development and disparity problems, the improvements in the living situation of the residents, especially of most city dwellers, are considerable – compared to the conditions in the early years of the People’s Republic.

The majority of the farmers are still poor. In addition, there is inadequate infrastructure and often inadequate schooling and medical care. Peasant families, of whom family members work in the cities, or farmers in urban areas who grow their products for the urban market, have financial advantages. One of the biggest problems is the further layoff of workers in agriculture. Although many new rural businesses (so-called township and village enterprises) emerged after 1978, their capacities were by no means sufficient to create enough new employment opportunities. The number of job seekers in rural areas is estimated at 150 to 200 million people. The central government is promoting the incorporation of rural areas into nearby large cities.

In the cities, incomes have increased significantly and the housing situation has improved. A new, consumer-oriented middle class has emerged there. The growth in domestic consumption is an important economic factor for the expansion of private companies and those established with foreign capital. On the other hand, the number of unemployed in the cities increased, particularly as a result of the redundancies from state and collective enterprises. The gap between rich and poor has widened. The distribution of income is now more unequal than in Germany (Gini index).

China People