There are 56 ethnic groups in China. The Han people form the largest, numbering 1.1 billion and making up 93.3 percent of the country's population. The other ethnic groups, that is the minority nationalities, total 160 million, only 6.7 percent of the Chinese nation.
Of the minority nationalities, 15 have over a million people each; 13 over 100,000 each; 7 over 50,000 each; and 20 have fewer than 50,000 people each.
The Han people live all over the country but their compact communities are in the Huanghe, Changjiang and Zhujiang valleys and the Songhua-Liaohe Plain of the northeast. The minority nationalities inhabit 60 percent of the country's total area, and they live mainly in the border regions.
All nationalities in China are equal, as stipulated by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, They take part in the administration of state affairs as equals, irrespective of their numbers or the size of areas they inhabit. Every minority nationality is represented in the National People's Congress, which is the highest organ of state power of the People's Republic of China.
National regional autonomy is practiced in areas where the minority nationalities live in compact communities. There are 5 national autonomous and 75 autonomous counties (or banners in Inner Mongolia). Local autonomous governments are established and local affairs are administered by the minorities themselves. All national autonomous regions are inalienable parts of the People's Republic of China.
At present, because of various historical factors the minority nationality areas are less developed than Han areas economically and culturally. Over the last three decades, the Chinese Government has adopted many policies and measures, including the provision of manpower, financial and technical support, to help develop these minority nationality areas. Such help, of course, is a two-way street, for minority nationality areas have also contributed to the economic development of the areas inhabited by the Han people.