Introduction to Russia and Eurasia

Introduction to China

Part One Cultures of Russia and Eurasia



The Aghuls are one of the indigenous peoples of Daghestan, culturally and linguistically akin to the Lezgins and Tabasarans. Traditionally the Aghuls identified themselves only by their village name (Khutkhul, Khorej, etc.).


The Ainu are an indigenous people of northern Japan who also resided on the southern half of Sakhalin Island and the Kurile Islands in the former Soviet Union. Early in the twentieth century they numbered several thousand in the territories of the former Soviet Union.


Identification. The Ajarians, a historical-ethnographic group within the Georgian nationality, are the major inhabitants of Ajaría (in Georgian, Ach'ara), one of the oldest provinces of Georgia.


Identification. Until the end of the eighteenth century the Aleuts inhabited the western tip of the Alaska Peninsula and the islands of the Aleutian Archipelago, a chain of volcanic treeless islands that extends in an arc from the Alaska Peninsula westward and separates the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean.


Identification. Altaian is the general name for a group of Turkic peoples living in the region of the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia in the Altai Republic.



ETHNONYMS: Self-designation: Hay. Other names include Armyanin (Russian) and Somekhi (Georgian).


Identification. "Ashkenaz" refers to the first settlements of Jews in northwestern Europe, on the banks of the Rhine, and to the culture, conservative of sources and customs, as developed through study of Torah (which can refer to the first five books of the Old Testament, the entire Old Testament, or all of Jewish law) and Talmud (a collection of laws and traditions).

Asiatic Eskimos

ETHNONYMS: Yupik (self-designation); depending on the territory inhabited: Nevuga Yupiga, Singhinem Yupiga, Sivugam Yupiga, Ungazim Yupiga; Russian adaptations include Chaplintsy (Unazitsky), Naukantsy, and Sireniktsy.


ETHNONYMS: Maarulal (self-designation meaning "mountain language"); exoethnonyms: Avar, Haibulu, Khundzi Yarussa. The ethnonym "Avar" became established during the last thirty or forty years and comes from the literary tradition (medieval chronicles).

Azerbaijani Turks

Identification. Historic Azerbaijan is today divided into the independent Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic until 30 August 1991) in the north and the East and West Azerbaijan provinces of Iran in the south.


ETHNONYMS: The Balkars or Malkars are designated by other peoples in over a dozen ways, including Alan, Asi (Osi), Asiat, Balqar, Basiani, Basman, Belkyur, Bulgar, Malkan, Malqar, Musavi, Osson, Ovsi, and Saviar. Their most general self-designation is "Taulu" (i.e., mountaineer).


Identification. The Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (BASSR) was one of the sixteen autonomous republics and other autonomous areas that comprised the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR).


Identification. Belarussians are a majority in the nation of Belarus.

Bukharan Jews


Identification. The Buriats live in Irkutsk Province (Oblast), Ust'-Orda Buriat Autonomous Region (Okrug), Chita Oblast and Aga-Buriat Autonomous Okrug of the Republic of Buryatia in the former USSR.


Identification. Carpatho-Rusyns are a national minority who have never enjoyed independent statehood.


Identification. The Chechens and Ingush are the most numerous northern Caucasian group and territorially one of the largest.


Identification. The Chukchee are native to the Chukchee Autonomous District (okrug) formed in 1930 in the Magadan Province (oblast) of Russia.


Identification. "Chuvans" is an official and popular name of the small group of creolized natives in Pacific Northeastern Siberia who are occasionally listed among the twenty-six titular Soviet Arctic and Siberian minorities (the so-called Peoples of the North).


Identification. The Chuvash live in Russia, primarily in the Chuvash Republic but also in Tatarstan and Bashkirstan and in the Ulianov, Kuibyyshev, and Saratov areas, where they migrated in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries.


Identification. The Circassians and their close kin, the Ubykhs, all call themselves "Adyghe" (three syllables).

Crimean Tatars

Identification. The Crimea had been settled by diverse Asian and European peoples for 2,500 years before becoming the ancestral homeland of the Crimean Tatars in the fourteenth century.



Don Cossacks

Identification. Originally the Cossacks were free mercenaries who resided in a no-man's-land.


Identification. The Dungans are a small ethnic minority, the descendants of the Chinese Muslims who crossed the Russian border from China over 100 years ago.


Identification. The Estonians are a nominally Lutheran and Orthodox people inhabiting their own nation on the Baltic Sea and having their own language and culture despite having been dominated by foreign powers over most of their history.


Identification. The Even, like the related Evenki, are singularly distinguished—not only among the peoples of the North and of Siberia, but also among the peoples of the world—by the fact that such a small population occupies such an enormous territory.

Evenki (Northern Tungus)


Identification. There is no exact information about the number of Gagauz in the world today.

Georgian Jews

The presence of Jews in Georgia, according to oral traditions and ancient literary works, dates back about 2,500 years. Despite considerable assimilation into Georgian society, Georgian Jews preserve their identity and see themselves as descendants of the ten branches of Israelites who were settled in Midia by Assyrian kings.


ETHNONYMS: Kartveli (Georgian person), Sakartvelo (Georgia). Names for the country in other languages include Gruziya (Russian), Gurjistan (Persian), Iberia (Latin), Vrastan (Armenian).


Identification. The estimated 2,038,341 Germans who lived in Russia as of January 1989 constituted the single largest ethnic minority group without a settlement area of its own.


Identification. The Greek population of the former USSR is the result of various waves of immigration: the Greeks of the Crimea, who settled in the Mariupol region in the 1770s; those who originate from Greece, including the few remaining political refugees who fled Greece after the civil war in 1948-1949; and those who came from the historical Pontus (in the Black Sea region of present-day Turkey) and settled along the Black Sea coast in Russia.


Identification. Gypsies of the former USSR can be divided into more than ten groups distinguished by language or dialect, culture, and way of life.


ETHNONYMS: Self-designation: Ingilo (eli). The word "Ingilo" is of relatively recent origin; it has been associated with the Old Turkish word yangili ("newly converted").


Identification. The Itelmen are an aboriginal people of Kamchatka Peninsula, an area in Russia with the status of an oblast (the center is Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii).


Identification. The Kalmyks are the Western Mongols, also known as the Oirats," who in the beginning of the seventeenth century undertook migration west, eventually to roam the steppes of the Volga, Don, and Kuban rivers.


Identification and Location. The Karachays inhabit the northern Caucasus in the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast (AO) of the Stravropolski Krai, in the following districts (raions): Karachay, Malo-Karachay, Zelenchuk, Ust'-Jegutin, and Prikuban.


Identification. Karaites or Karaim are followers of non-Talmudic Judaism and thus are distinct from rabbinic Jews such as the Ashkenazim.


Identification. Karakalpaks speak a Central Turkic language, live primarily in the Turanian (Aral Sea) Basin of Central Asia, and are by tradition Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school.


Identification. The Karelians belong to the Baltic-Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugrian peoples.


Identification. Kazakhs are a Central Asian people who live mainly in Kazakhstan, formerly the Kazakh SSR.


Identification. The Ket are a remnant population of hunters (of squirrels, moose, reindeer), fishermen, and gatherers currently inhabiting the Yenisei and its tributaries between 61° N and 68° N.



ETHNONYMS: As-iakh, Hante, Ostyak; local names include Beriozov, Irtysh Khanty, Lariak, Obdorsk, and Vasiugan.


Identification and Location. The Khevsur are one of the ethnic subdivisions of the Georgian people.


ETHNONYMS: Khinalugh is the Azerbaijani name for the people and the village they inhabit. Their self-designations are: (1) Kätish, Kätsh khalk (the "people of Ketsh"); (2) Kättid (the "inhabitants of Ketsh").


Identification. The Komi live west of the Ural Mountains in the northeastern half of the European portion of the Komi Republic and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area (AA).


Identification. Koreans living in the former Soviet Union have traditionally identified themselves either as Koryo Saram (people who came during the Koryo dynasty, A.D.

Koryaks and Kerek

Identification. The Koryaks are the main aboriginal population of the Koryak Autonomous District (okrug, the center of which is Palana), a part of Kamchatka Oblast in Russia.

Kriashen Tatars

Identification. The Kriashens are an ethnic group inhabiting the middle Volga region in the extreme eastern part of European Russia.


Identification. The Krymchaks are a Jewish ethnic group located on the Crimean Peninsula on the northern Black Sea shores who spoke vernacular Crimean Tatar.


Identification. The Kubachins, one of the small ethnic groups of Daghestan, live in the settlement of Kubachi (also known as Arbukanti), and elsewhere in the cities of Caucasia and Central Asia.



Identification, Location, and Demography. According to Statistical data for 1989, the total population of Kurds in the USSR was 152,717.


Identification. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic-Mongol people who live primarily in the mountainous regions of Central Asia, where their traditional livelihood was that of pastoral nomadism.


ETHNONYMS: Self-designation: Lakk (sing.), Lakkuchu (pl.). Former self-designations: Ghazi Kumukh or Qazi Qumukh, from the Arabic ghazi (warrior of the faith) and the Lak "Kumukh" (the cultural and political center of the Lak territory).


Identification. Latvians are one of two Baltic ethnolinguistic groups (the other is Lithuanians).



Identification. The Lezgins are the descendants of Caucasic peoples who have inhabited the region of southern Daghestan since at least the Bronze Age.

Lithuanian Jews

Identification. Lithuanian Jews are one of several subgroups of European Jews known as Ashkenazim.


Identification. Lithuania is a Baltic nation bounded on the west by the Baltic Sea, on the north by Latvia, on the east and south by Belarus, and on the southwest by Poland and Russia.


Identification. The Mansi, known in older literature as the "Voguls," are one of two Ugrian peoples who live in northwestern Siberia, just east of the Urals in the lowlands crossed by a number of rivers, many of which are tributaries of the Ob.


Identification. Within the Russian Federation, the Maris have had a titular autonomous republic (the Mari ASSR after 1936, today the Republic of Mari) which now forms a part of the Volga-Vyatka macroeconomic region.


Identification. The traditional homeland of the Meskhetians is in south-southwestern Georgia, to the south of the Meskhetian mountain ridge.


Identification. Mingrelia (Samargalo) is situated in the western half of the Georgian Republic in the former USSR.


Identification. Moldova, covering about 32,500 square kilometers, was geographically the next to the smallest of the fifteen republics of the former USSR.

Mountain Jews

Identification. The Mountain Jews are a distinct Jewish subgroup (in the context of world Judaism) and one of the oldest ethnic groups in Caucasia and Daghestan.


Identification. The Nanai reside in the Russian Far East, mainly in the Khabarovsk District, along the lower Amur River.


Identification. The Nenets are the largest of the groups generally referred to as the "Samoyeds." The Samoyeds also comprise three other linguistically related ethnic entities: the Enets, the Nganasan, and the Selkup.


Identification. The Nganasan are settled on the Taimyr Peninsula, which is part of the Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous District (okrug), which, in turn, is part of the Krasnoyarsk Krai of the Russian Federation.


ETHNONYMS: Giliak, Gilyak; Giriya(a)ku, Nibuhi, Nikubun (Japanese). Forms with final -i as in Nivkhi and Gilyaki are Russian plurals.


Old Believers


The Orochi are one of the peoples of northern Russia, inhabitants of the Far East living in Khabarovsk Krai, mainly near the month of the Tumnin River; in the past they also lived along the tributaries of the Amur and on Lake Kizi. Their population in 1989 was 915 (in 1926 it was 647 and in 1970 it was 1,089).


The Orok are one of the indigenous peoples of Sakhalin Island. They are divided into two groups: the Southern Orok live near the Bay of Patience and the Northern Orok on the Val River.


Identification. The Ossetes mainly inhabit both sides of the central Caucasian mountain chain.

Pamir Peoples

Identification. In the Mountain-Badakhshan District of the Tajik Republic, in the deep, high mountain valleys of the western Pamirs live the Pamirians.


Identification. The Poles are a Western Slavic people who, for hundreds of years, have inhabited territory in what is now the western part of the former Soviet Union.

Russian Peasants

Identification. The Russian peasants are part of the eastern branch of the Slavic ethnic unit.


Identification. Russians are the largest subdivision of the Eastern Slavs, the other members of which are Ukrainians and Belarussians.


Identification. The Rutuls are a people living in the Caucasus region of what is now southern Russia, in the southern part of Daghestan (Rutul District) in the valleys of the Samur River and its tributaries.


Identification. The Saami (Lopari) of Russia number 1,800, about 85 percent of them living in their ancient territory on the Kola Peninsula in the Murmansk Oblast of Russia; 40 percent live in cities.


Identification. Selkup (söl'qup) means "forest person." In the seventeenth century the Russian Cossacks called the Selkup the "Piebald Horde," probably because their clothes were sewn from the multicolored skins of small animais and birds.



ETHNONYMS: Belarussian Siberians; Russian Siberians; Siberiachi; Siberian Cossacks; Sibiriaki; Slavic Siberians; Ukrainian Siberians. Local names include Kamenshchiki (of the Altai) and Semeiski (of Baikal).

Siberian Estonians

Currently, there are approximately 20,000 Estonians in Siberia. Most are descendants of the volunteer settlers who went there around the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.

Siberian Germans

Identification. Approximately 400,000 Germans live in the southern regions of western Siberia today.

Siberian Tatars

Identification. At the present time there are thought to be over 500,000 Tatars in Siberia.


ETHNONYMS: Svan: Mushwæn (person), Shwæn (territory); in Georgian these are "Svani" and "Svaneti," respectively.


Identification. The Tabasarans are an ethnic group of the former USSR; they live in southeastern Daghestan (the Khiv and Tabasaran districts, or raions), and some have resettled in the lowlands (in the villages of Mamedkala and Daghestanskie Ogni in the Derbent District) and the foothills (of the Tabasaran District).


Identification. Tajiks are a Central Asian people who live in Afghanistan, in republics of the former Soviet Union, and in China.



Identification and Location. The Tats live in the Caucasus: in the Azerbaijan Republic and in Daghestan.


Identification. The Tofalar are an ethnolinguistic group and the indigenous people of an area called Tofalaria.


ETHNONYMS: Self-designation: Iiqhy. The ethnonyms Tsakhur (Ts'akhur) and Tsakhi are related to the name of the largest village, Tsakhur.


Identification. The Turkmens are one of the major ethnic groups of Central Asia, where they had their own Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), also referred to as Turkmenia or Turkmenistan.



Identification and Location. The Udis inhabit eastern Transcaucasia, in the district center Vartashen and in settlements in the Nij Kutkashen Raion of the Azerbaijan Republic.


Identification. The Udmurt are an ethnic group who live primarily in the Udmurt Republic in Russia.


Identification. The Uighur, a Central Asian ethnic group of the former Soviet Union, are a distinct ethnic group, although unlike larger Central Asian nationalities (such as Uzbek, Kazakh, or Kyrgyz), they are not identified with an autonomous republic.

Ukrainian Peasants

Ukraine is the land of the chernozem (black soil) and the breadbasket of the former Soviet Union. Because of the Ukraine's rich agricultural resources, the peasantry was the majority (75 percent) of its population prior to the Soviet Socialist Revolution.


Identification. Ukrainians are the second-largest Slavic group in the world and they form the sixth-largest nation in Europe.


Identification. Uzbekistan ranks third in population of the former republics of the USSR and is the largest of the four republics (Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan) formerly referred to as Soviet Central Asia.

Volga Tatars

Identification. The Volga Tatars are the westernmost of all Turkic ethnic groups living in the former Soviet Union.


Identification. The Yakut, who prefer to call themselves "Sakha," live in Yakutia, the Sovereign Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation formed in 1992.


ETHNONYMS: Self-designation: Duasen (pi, Dâseni); Iz(e) di, Yazîdî. The origin of the term "Yezidi" is uncertain; many scholars believe it to be cognate with the Persian iixedy "deity, angel." The Yezidis are often referred to as "devil worshipers" by their Muslim and Christian neighbors.


Identification. The Yukagir are one of the smallest minorities in the former USSR.

Part Two Cultures of China


Identification. With a population of only 27,708 (1990 census), the Achang are a small ethnic group.



The Blang live primarily in Menghai County in the southwestern part of Yunnan Province, though some also live in Blang communities in nearby Lincang and Simao prefectures. They numbered 82,280 in 1990 and speak a language that belongs to the Mon-Khmer Branch of the South Asian Language Family.


The Bonan numbered 12,212 in 1990, and they live primarily in four villages in Gansu Province. Their population has been growing rapidly; there were only about 5,600 in 1959.


The 2,545,059 Bouyei (1990 estimate) live in Guizhou Province, and they speak a language that belongs to the Zhuang-Dong Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Family. Although there is now a writing system for the Bouyei language, Han is often used in written communications.



The Daur are one of China's northern minorities. They numbered 121,627 in 1990.


Identification. De'ang is one of fifty-six ethnic groups in China officially recognized by the Chinese government.


The 2,514,014 Dong (1990 census) live in numerous villages in the hills along the borders of Hunan, Guizhou, and Guangxi provinces. The Dong language, called Kam, belongs to the Zhuang-Dong Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family.


The Dongxiang population stood at 373,872 in 1990, having increased rapidly over the previous twenty years. The majority of Dongxiang live in Gansu Province, and a smaller number in Xinjiang Province.


One of the smallest minority groups of China, the Drung in 1990 numbered 5,816. They are located in northwestern Yunnan Province, near the Myanmar (Burma) border, and are spread over an area of a hundred miles along the valleys of the Dulong River.


Identification. The Ewenki are one of the fifty-five officially recognized minority nationalities of the People's Republic of China.


The Gelao are a mountain agricultural people scattered across twenty counties in western Guizhou Province, with heavy concentrations around Zunyi and Anshun. A smaller number are in Zhuang areas in Yunnan and Guangxi.


Identification. "Hakka" is the Yue (Cantonese) pronunciation of the term that translates literally as "guests" or "stranger families" or, less literally, as "settlers" or "newcomers." The name "Hakka" (in Mandarin, "Kejia") is likely to have originated from the descriptive term used before the seventeenth century in population registers to distinguish recent immigrants from earlier Yue inhabitants.


Identification. Han people are both numerically and politically dominant in mainland China, Taiwan, and the city-state of Singapore; they also reside in nearly every country in the world as Overseas Chinese.




With a population of 8,603,000 in 1990, the Hui are the most populous of China's Muslim peoples. They are also the most widespread, living in every city, province, and region of China, as well as in 2,308 of China's 2,372 counties.


The Jing live near the China-Vietnam border, mainly on three islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Fangcheng Multi-National Autonomous County (part of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) is shared by Jing, Zhuang, Yao, and Han.



The Jino are a small group, numbering only 18,021, who live in Jinghong County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province. Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Family and is most closely related to Yi and Burmese.


The number of Kazak people in China in 1990 was 1,111,718; however, this represents only 13 percent of the entire Kazak population, most of whom reside in Kazakhstan. The Kazak in China live primarily in the Xinjiang Uigur autonomous Region, but some live also in western Gansu Province and in Qinghai Province.


In 1962 the Kirgiz living in China numbered 66,000, but by 1990 their population had grown to 141,549. This latter figure, however, represents only 7 percent of the entire worldwide Kirgiz population, most of which lives in Kyrgyzstan.


Identification. The Lahu are swidden farmers and hunters of the upland regions of southwestern Yunnan.


In 1990 the Lhoba numbered only 2,312. They live in the counties of Mainling, Medog, Lhunze, Nangxian, and Luoyu in southeastern and southern Tibet.


The Li numbered 1,110,900 in 1990 and lived in Hainan Li and Miao Autonomous Prefecture on the island of Hainan, off China's southern coast, in Guangdong Province. (Hainan has since become a province in its own right.) The Li language belongs to the Zhuang-Dong Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Family.


The Lisu are one of the uplands groups of southwestern China; some Lisu also live in northern Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. They are agriculturalists, with continued reliance on hunting and gathering.


Identification. From the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century, the Manchu played a key role in Chinese history as the rulers of the Qing dynasty.


The Maonan are speakers of the Dong-Shui Branch of the Zhuang-Dong Language Family of Sino-Tibetan. Many also speak Han or Zhuang.



The 7,475 (1990) Moinba live in southern Tibet, primarily in Medog, Nyingchi, and Cona counties. Their language is a member of the Tibeto-Burman Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Family; the Moinba language has many dialects.


Identification. Mongols live in a number of different countries.


Most Mulam call themselves "Ling" and a smaller group call themselves "Jin" or "Bendiren" (locals). Ninety percent of the 159,328 Mulam (1990 census) live in the Luocheng Mulao Autonomous County, organized in 1984, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


Identification. The Naxi are one of China's fifty-six officially recognized "nationalities." "Naxi" (Nah-shee), meaning "people of the black," is the name most Naxi use for themselves.


The Nu live in northwestern Yunnan Province, primarily in Bijiang, Fugong, and Gongshan counties of the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture and in the neighboring Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The area is mountainous, with large stands of primary forest, and is rich in timber, wild plants, and game.


The Oroqen are one of the fifty-five officially recognized ethnic minorities of the People's Republic of China. They are found in Heilongjiang Province (Huma, Xunke, Aihui, and Jiayin counties) and the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (mainly in Hulun Buir League).


The 29,657 (1990) Pumi live primarily in Lijiang Prefecture and the Nujiang area in northwestern Yunnan Province; a few live in two counties in Sichuan Province. They are mountain people, occupying elevations as high as 2,600 meters.



About 70 percent of the 87,697 (1990) Salar people live in Xunhua Salar Autonomous County, Qinghai Province. Most of the remainder live in Hualong County, Qinghai Province, and in Linxia County, Gansu Province.


Identification. The She are one of China's officially recognized national minorities.


According to the 1990 census, 245,993 Shui live along the upper portions of the Long and Duliu rivers in southern Guizhou Province. The Shui language belongs to the Zhuang-Dong Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Family.


China's 33,538 (1990) Tajik represent less than 1 percent of all Tajik people. The majority live in Tajikistan.


Tatar peoples living in China represent only 1 percent of all Tatar peoples. The Tatar population in China was 4,837 in 1990, up from 4,300 in 1957.


Identification. The Tibetans are a Central Asian group living primarily on the high plateau of southwestern China and throughout sections of the Himalayas.


In 1990, some 191,624 Tu lived in the Qilian Mountains and on the banks of the Huang and Datong rivers, mainly in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous County, Qinghai Province. The Tu language is a member of the Mongolian Branch of the Altaic Family.


Identification. The Tujia are one of largest minority groups in south-central China.


At just under 7,215,000 people, the Uigur are one of China's most populous minorities. They live in Xinjiang Province and make up two-fifths of the population there.


The small Uzbek population in China, which was counted at 14,592 in 1990, is but 1 percent of the total worldwide Uzbek population, most of whom live in Uzbekistan. The Uzbeks in China live in Xinjiang Province, primarily in Uzbek communities in cities adjoining the Russian border (Yining, Qoqek [Tacheng], Kashgar, Urumqi, Yarkant, and Kargilik [Yecheng]).



The Xibe people numbered 172,847 in 1990, a sizable increase in population from the 82,629 enumerated in 1982. Many still live in Liaoning Province, and over half live in Xinjiang Province along the Ili River.


The 1990 census reports 2,134,000 Yao in China. Sixty percent of them live in Guangxi Province, with the remainder located in bordering areas of Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan.


Identification. The Yi are one of the largest minority groups in China.


As of 1990, 12,297 Yugur lived in the Hexi Corridor of Gansu Province, with 90 percent of them living in the Sunan Yugur Autonomous County. Those living in western Sunan speak Yohur, a language belonging to the Turkic Branch of the Altaic Family and closely related to Uigur and Salar; those living in the eastern part of the same county speak Enger, a language belonging to the Mongolian Branch of the Altaic Family and related to Bonan, Tu, and Mongolian.