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The Zhuang ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

10:51, August 08, 2011

Population: 15 million

Major area of distribution: Guangxi

Language: Zhuang

Religion: Polytheism

The Zhuangs ethnic minority is China's largest minority group. Its population of 15.55 million approaches that of Australia. Most of the Zhuangs live in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which is nearly the size of New Zealand. The rest have settled in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan provinces.


Photo: Chen Haiwen

While most Zhuang communities concentrate in a compact area in Guangxi, the others are scattered over places shared by other ethnic groups such as Han, Yao, Miao, Dong, Mulao, Maonan and Shui.

Lying in Guangxi's mountainous regions, the Zhuang area is high in the northwest, undulating in the middle and low in the southeast. Limestone is widely distributed in the area, which is known round the world for its karst topography. Many rocky peaks rise straight up from the ground, and the peaks hide numerous fascinating grottoes and subterranean rivers. Guilin, a tourist attraction in Guangxi, is an excellent example of such landscape. As the saying goes: "The landscape at Guilin is the best on earth; and the landscape at Yangshuo is the best in Guilin." Wuming, Jingxi and Lingyun counties are also known for their scenic splendours.

Crisscrossing rivers endow the Zhuang area with plentiful sources of water for irrigation, navigation and hydropower. The coastline in south Guangxi not only has important ports but also yields many valuable marine products including the best pearls in China.

The Zhuang area enjoys a mild climate with an average annual temperature of 20 degrees centigrade, being warm in winter and sweltering in summer in the south. Plants are always green, blossoming in all seasons. Abundant rainfall nurtures tropical and subtropical crops such as rice, yam, corn, sugar cane, banana, longan, litchi, pineapple, shaddock and mango. The mountains in southwest and northwest Guangxi abound in Liuzhou fir, silver fir and camphor trees, rare elsewhere. Mineral resources include iron, coal, wolfram, gold, copper, tin, manganese, aluminum, stibium, zinc and petroleum. The area is also rich in tung oil, tea, tea oil, mushroom, Chinese cinnamon, pseudo-ginseng, Chinese gecko (used in traditional Chinese medicine to help regain vitality), fennal and fennal essence. The last four items are the Zhuang area's special products.
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