De'ang - Orientation

Identification. De'ang is one of fifty-six ethnic groups in China officially recognized by the Chinese government. The earlier official ethnic name was "Benglong" but was changed to "De'ang" in 1985 at their request. The De'ang are discontinuously spread across the border areas between the southwestern frontier of the Chinese province of Yunnan and northeastern Myanmar (Burma). They are one of the smallest minority peoples in China; they numbered 15,462 in 1990. They are considered to have a long history.

Location. In Yunnan, the De'ang live mainly in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, with others scattered in the Lincang Administration Area and the Baoshan Administration Area. The regions of Santaishan in Luxi County and Junnong in Zhenkang County are the largest communities of De'ang. The climate in De'ang areas is subtropical with dry and rainy seasons each year.

Demography. Population growth had been very slow because the high birthrate was offset by a high rate of infant mortality. Since the 1950s the population has been steadily increasing with the improvement of medical care and health conditions. The population of De'ang was estimated at about 6,000 in 1949 and had increased to 12,275 by the time of the national census in 1982.

Linguistic Affiliation. The De'ang are Mon-Khmer speakers. They speak three dialects. Having lived in close contact with the Dai, Jingpo, and Han (Chinese) for a long time, many De'ang also speak the languages of those peoples at trade fairs and in social intercourse.

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