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【Learn Chinese】The Three Largest Ethnic Minorities in Chi
Did you know that there are 56 officially recognized Chinese ethnic groups in China? When most people think of China, they just think of Han Chinese culture, as this is the most prevalent. However, China’s many ethnic minorities all have their own unique culture, customs, dress etc.
Out of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities (少数民族 shǎoshù mínzú) in China, let’s have a look at the three largest groups first.
The biggest of the 55 ethnic minorities in China are the Zhuang (壮族 zhuàng zú). About 18 million Zhuang live in south and southeast China. They mostly inhabit the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province.
However, the Zhuang actually originated in Sichuan, but were forced to move south when the Qin dynasty and Han dynasty began to expand southwards.
The Zhuang are famous for their beautiful terraced rice fields, tribal villages and towns. The Zhuang do have their own spoken languages which are related to Thai, though most also speak Mandarin.
The Hui (回族 huí zú) are the second biggest ethnic minority in China and also the most widely distributed. 
They have a population of around 10.5 million and most can be found in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwestern China. However, they are also found in Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Anhui, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shaanxi, Beijing, Tianjin.
The Hui are one of China’s two major Muslim Chinese ethnic groups, with the other being the Uighur. Both the Hui and Uighur are descendants of the Turks, but unlike the Uighur they didn’t retain a Turkish dialect and mostly speak Mandarin.
Nowadays, the Hui have largely assimilated into Han society. They maintain Islamic practices such as refraining from eating pork and Hui men will wear white caps and women headscarves. Although, with the modernization of China many young Hui people will just wear mainstream fashion clothes.
Another one of the largest Chinese ethnic groups is the Manchu (满洲族 mǎnzhōu zú) who have a population of just over 10 million.
The Manchu’s played a prominent role in Chinese history, ruling China’s last imperial dynasty: the Qing dynasty 1644–1911 (清朝 qīngcháo). The last emperor of China Pu Yi was Manchu.
The Manchus are mainly based in Northeastern China and give the name to their homeland: Manchuria. Most often Manchuria refers to the area of three northeastern provinces: Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.
Due to their prominent role in Chinese history many Manchu customs are recognizable today such as the Qipao (旗袍 qípáo) a traditional Chinese dress and heated beds called kangs (炕 kàng).
Unlike many other Chinese ethnic minorities very few Manchu people can still speak the language and even fewer can read Manchu writings.