The People's Republic of China officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups, or Mínzú (民族), sometimes translated as nationalities, within China: the Han being the majority (>92%), and the remaining 55 ethnicities being the minorities. While Han Chinese make up the vast majority of China's total population, the population distribution is highly uneven with large parts of western China having Han Chinese as a minority. In addition the lumping of most Chinese into the majority Han, obscures some of the large linguistic, cultural, and racial differences between persons within that group.
The multiethnic nature of China results in part by territories incorporated by the Qing dynasty, whose emperors were themselves Manchu and not members of the majority Han. Chinese ethnic group theory is heavily influenced by that of the Soviet Union. Official policy is against assimilation and maintains that each ethnic group should have the right to develop its own culture and language.
The degree of integration of minority ethnic groups with the national community varies widely from group to group. With some groups, such as the Tibetans and the Uighurs there is a great deal of resentment against the majority. Other groups such as the Zhuang, Hui Chinese, and ethnic Koreans are well integrated into the national community.
In order of population these are:
Note that some of these ethnic groups hold belief systems that cannot be distinctly classified based upon the following system (in alphabetical order).