But history is only history. I guess we care more about the people who live there now. Curzon had a crash course on the ethnic groups as well, in the language of map. It would help you understand the ethnic variety in China.
I love Coming Anarchy's map collections. Thanks Simonworld for the introduction. I do not share Curzon's passion for Robert Kaplan. I think Kaplan's thoughts are rather shallow and he does not really understand the spirit of Sun Zi. I haven't read his new book, but it seems the Economist agrees with me. That is probably one minor difference between Curzon and me. As a map geek, I found more in common with him, and I think Curzon's map blogs are brilliant.
He has also recently discussed about buffer states, shown us the map images via google earth, a great geography game, "The average American's view on the Muslim world", the African Chunnel, and more. I would click through all his older geographic collections when I have time.
Here are two maps (click in to enlarge, and move the cursor to the lower right corner, wait a second for the 4-legged spider to appear, click it to further enlarge if you are using IE) on the ethnolinguistic and linguistic groups in China via Curzon. Some more introduction on these ethnic groups:
- There are 56 official ethnic groups altogether. (see map on the right)
- Paul Noll has a great site, with the population breakdown table (note the statistics probably does not include Taiwan/HK/Macau, because it only records 2900 for Gaoshan people), and you can click into each group for photos of their costume and detailed description!
- Tianxian MM, who recently rose to internet fame, belongs to the Qiang; Qiang is related to the Tibetans, for modern history of Tibet, Michael Parenti has perhaps the most balanced discussion, which does not side with the communists or the aristocrat monks
- Wu'er Kaixi, a student leader in 1989, is a Uyghur;
- The beautiful Shangri-la County, Lijiang and Dali in Yunnan, which also boast the peacock dancer Yang Liping, is predominantly Bai; Yunnan (map on right) also ins home to about half of the 56 groups
- Source of the maps can be found here.
- Don't forget the matriarch society of Mosuo (part of the Naxi), where men are only needed for a short period of time when having children in a "highly fluid relationship system" called tisese;
- The 9 (or 12) tribes in Taiwan are grouped under Gaoshan, who are the ancestors of Pacific Islanders from Maori in New Zealand to Native Hawaiian, as shown via linguistic study (see Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel), and more recently, genetically;
- Some other groups are people who share their genes with the neighboring countries, e.g., Korean, Thai (Dai), Kazakh, Uzbek
- The smallest (official) group, Lhoba, only has 2300 in population
- update: here is a demographic study of the ethnic groups (table 1), Han as a percentage of total population has dropped from 95% in 1950 to 92% today, mainly because of the one-child policy (which does not apply to minorities). See also here for all picture and summary in one page, and here.
- Sino-Tibetan is one family. In fact, the difference between different Tibetan dialects (and among Tibetans and its close relative Qiang/etc) are as different(or similar) as Cantonese and Mandarin; Burmese (Myanmar) also belongs to the Tibetan sub-group
- Within the Han dialects, Wu=Shanghainese group (incl Zhejiang), Yue=Cantonese, Min=Minanese/Taiwanese
- Kam-Tai includes the Zhuang group, Hainan, and related to Vietnamese, and Thai language
- Mon-Khmer are the Lao and Cambodian language, located in Yunnan bordering Laos, and a bit of Thailand/Vietnam
- Altai are the Mongols and Turks, which also include Manchurian and Korean, basically those up north
- Gaoshan is not indicated in the first map (but in the second), their languages are related to the Polynesian, Phillippino and Bahasa. The reason that Gaoshan is regarded as the ancestors of all these people is due to the linguistic variety (and more recently, confirmed with genetic variety). i.e. the difference among the groups on Taiwan Island is as different as between Taiwan Gaoshans and Hawiians (but the difference between Malays and Hawaiians are smaller!), which indicates that if Hawaiians and Malays are n(th) cousins, then the difference Gaoshans (e.g. Bunon and Ataya) are (N+x)th cousins
- Miao/Yao are scattered, because they used to be as popular as the Han, but were reportedly defeated by Han and retreat to the mountains (around 7000 years ago)
- In the 2nd map, the little circle represents Han who live in the cities in minority dominated areas, and triangles are Muslims (Hui) who mingled with Han (they are genetically Han)
- Update: Not all language has a written form. Korean, Tibetan, Mogolian and Manchu have their own alpahbets (Dai uses Thai); Uyghur, Kazakh, Tajik and Kirgiz use arabic alphabets; Xibo uses Manchu alphabets, Yi and Naxi have their own syllabary and script. Most of the rest do not have their own. e.g. Qiang would use Chinese characters, and the Zhuang's (and a few others) created their own Romantized forms using Roman alphabets/pinyin after the CCP revolution
I hope you will understand more about these people. Despite the well publicized ethnic conflict in the west, ethnic groups in China mostly live in good harmony. However, although there are affirmative policies in China, which actually favors minorities in education, low tax for business, etc., and effectively exempt them from the one-child policy (the cap is 3 children, and almost never enforced), since many of the minorities live in these remote and rural areas, they (also the underprivileged Han rural people) became relatively poorer from the recent economic growth (also because they are not used to doing business). As for Han Chinese who travel to or do business in these areas, it is also important to respect and treat the minorities fairly.
Compare the map above with the satellite picture at night, you can see the minorities (also the rural Han) mostly live in the 'darker' areas. With this post I hope to make them better known to (and better understood by) the outside world, and hence draw more help to improve their livelihood and conserve the environment they live in.
(Update Nov 23) A more detailed map is posted.