China is a unified and multi-ethnic country which came into being as a collective creation of all the Chinese. In the long course of historical development, all the nationalities have joined in the effort to create the great heritage for their motherland.
On this richly endowed land one can find 56 different nationalities with a total population of 1.3 billion. Apart from the Han nationality, the other 55 ethnic groups, with a total of more than 96.5 million people, constitute roughly 8.41 per cent of the total population.
Although small in size, people of various minority nationalities inhabit over half of the land area of the country. It is a wide expanse of land containing a great wealth of water reserves, dense forests and abundant mineral resources. The minority groups have traditionally extablished their abodes in mountainous and pastoral areas, on high plateaus and in deep forests.
The minority nationalities, with mutual influence on each other in the fields of economy, politics and culture and close ties with the Han people, have developed communities of their own which are full of cultural peculiarities. Except Hui, Manchu and She who use the language of the Hans, all ethnic groups speak their own languages. Many of the old customs and traditions that benefit production and prosperity have been well-preserved and further developed. For example, the Mongolian traditional festival called the Nadam Fair, the Water-Sprinkling Festival of the Dais, the Torch Light Festival of the Yis and the “Eighth of the Fourth Month” Festival of the Miaos. These have become days for strengthening national unity and days on which people carry out cultural and physical activities as well as exchange souvenirs. People are free to wear whatever costumes they wish to.
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