Han Chinese

The Han Chinese are one of the 56 official nationalities of China, which is an ethnic group indigenous to China and the largest single ethnic group in the world, about 19 percent of the entire global human population. They are the “Descendants of the Dragon”, traditionally symbolized by the color red. The Han people have long prospered in China, and increasingly many have ventured abroad and settled worldwide. Internationally, Han people can be found in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, the United States, Canada, etc. 

History of Han Chinese

Because of the overwhelming numerical and cultural dominance of Han culture 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. The ethnic stock to which the Han Chinese originally trace their ancestry from were confederations of late neolithic and early bronze-age agricultural tribes known as the Huaxia that lived along the Guanzhong and Yellow River basins in Northern China. In addition, numerous ethnic groups were assimilated and absorbed by the Han Chinese at various points in China’s history. See China History.

Population of Han Chinese

The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic groups in China, with about 90 percent of the population in mainland China are Han.  The estimated 1.3 billion Han Chinese people are mostly concentrated in mainland China and in Taiwan. Taiwan counts 90% of its people as Han Chinese as well, Hong Kong has about 6.6 million Han Chinese, while Singapore has 2.7 million Han, about three quarters of the total population of Singapore. The Han Chinese people have long prospered in China, and more and more people are flocking abroad and settling all over the world.

The distribution of the Han nationality in China is characterized by dense in east and thin in west. Among them, the proportion of Han people in the local population is about 99.77% in Jiangsu and 99.49% in Zhejiang, 37.58% in Xinjiang and 2.05% in Tibet.

Culture of Han Chinese

Han China is one of the world’s oldest and most complex civilizations. Chinese culture dates back thousands of years. Some Han Chinese believe they share common mythical ancestors, the patriarchs Yellow Emperor and Yan Emperor, some thousands of years ago. Hence, some Chinese refer to themselves as “Descendants of the Yan and/or Yellow Emperor”.

National Totem

The totem of the Han nationality is composed of a dragon and a phoenix, which means Yin and Yang, that is, also men and women. Due to the large population of the Han nationality, it occupies most of the development of Chinese history, so it continues the oldest animal dragon as the symbol of its own nation. Dragon flying and phoenix dancing, is the national symbol of central plains area and the southern region.


Hanyu was the original language of the Han, and a tongue which later developed into an early version of Mandarin Chinese. It belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. There are several kinds of dialects. The Mandarin is the standard designated language on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. In Hong Kong, they speak Cantonese.

The traditional and simplified Chinese characters are two forms of written languages of Han Chinese. Simplified Chinese character is derived from the traditional one and is now widely and frequently used.


Chinese names are typically two or three syllables in length, with the surname preceding the given name. Surnames are typically one character in length, though a few uncommon surnames are two or more syllables long, while given names are one or two syllables long. There are 4,000 to 6,000 surnames in China; about 1,000 surnames are the most popularly used.


Chinese culture has long been characterized by religious diversity, and Chinese folk religions have always maintained a far-reaching influence. Indigenous Confucianism and Taoism share aspects of a philosophy or religion that never require exclusive adherence. Han Chinese culture has long been influenced by mahayana Buddhism, and in recent centuries Christianity has found its place among the masses.

Chinese folk religion is a set of gods worship tradition of the Han nationality. It includes the worship of various characters in Chinese mythology, such as folk heroes like Guan Yu and Qu Yuan, and mythical creatures like Chinese dragons, families, clans and national ancestors. See more Religions in China.


Hanfu is the traditional clothing of Chinese Han nationality. It formed a perfect clothing system in Han Dynasty and popularize to the masses, and also influenced the whole Han cultural circle through Confucianism and Chinese law.

During the Republic of China period, fashion styles and forms of traditional Qing costumes gradually changed, influenced by fashion sensibilities from the Western World resulting modern Han Chinese wearing Western style clothing as a part of everyday dress.

Today, Han Chinese usually wear Western-style clothing. Few wear traditional Han Chinese clothing on a regular basis. The traditional Chinese clothing worn by many Chinese females in important occasions such as wedding banquets and Chinese New Year is called the qipao. See more Chinese Clothing.


The Han nationality has many festivals, mainly Spring Festival, Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Lantern Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and so on. The Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year, is a traditional festival of the Han people for thousands of years, and is the most solemn festival of the year. See more China Festivals.

Science of Han Chinese

The achievements of the Han nationality in natural sciences, astronomy and mathematics have always been the focus of attention. Among them, Zhang Heng (78-139), Zu Chongzhi (429-500), Yi Yi (Zhang Sui, 633-727) and Guo Shoujing (1231-1316) have been universally recognized as world cultural celebrities. Ancient agronomy often includes many achievements of ancient science and technology.

The Han nationality has a long tradition of astronomical observation. In the legendary times, there were hereditary officials in charge of astronomy, who were responsible for observing the celestial phenomena. The earliest and most complete observations and records of solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, stars, comets, sunspots and other celestial phenomena in the Han’s literature are available in the world. In addition, the Han independently invented their own calendar.

Papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the compass are the four great inventions of China.

Art of Han Chinese

The earliest artistic creations of the Han people in China date back to about 8,000 years ago, if not including earlier ornaments. Its basic features include the grinding of stone tools and the emergence of ceramics and textiles. Besides, there are rock paintings, original paintings and sculptures, etc.

Due to the large distribution area of the Han nationality, their traditional housing styles vary from region to region. In the northern area, Chinese Han people traditionally lived as extended families in large houses that were rectangular in shape. All the houses of Han are suggested to be positioned in the north facing south to catch the maximum sunlight. See Chinese Architecture.

The Han nationality is the one with music tradition. Before the Qin dynasty, the ancestors of the Han nationality had created musical instruments, composition and rhythm. In the flourishing period of Han and Tang dynasties, the music of Han nationality was known for song and dance music. After Song and Yuan dynasties, drama music is the main. See 

The drinking of tea by the Han people is said to have started in Shennong’s time, at least for more than 4,700 years. Until now, the Han Chinese people still have the custom of substituting tea for rites. The preparation of tea by the Han nationality is various. China is the hometown of tea, with thousands of years of history. See Chinese Tea Drinking.

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