Hani - Orientation

Identification. The Chinese government now refers to this ethnic group as "Hani." The Hani refer to themselves as the "Kaduo," the "Aini," the "Haoni," the "Biyue," and the "Baihong." In Han Chinese historical texts they have been called "Heyi," "Heman," "Heni," "Woni," "Ahni," and "Hani." The Hani in Thailand refer to themselves as "Akha" and other Tai groups call them "Kaw" or "Ekaw."

Location. Most Hani live in the area between the Red and the Lancang rivers, which is also the valley between the Mengle and Ailao mountains. The Hani population is concentrated in the Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, which includes the counties of Honghe, Luchun, Jinping, and Yuanyang. Other Hani also live in Simao Prefecture and Xishuangbanna and northern Yunnan. Some Hani speakers inhabit parts of Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Thailand. The environment in which the Hani live is characterized by high mountains, a moderate climate, abundant rainfall, and rich soil.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Hani language is of the Yi Subbranch of the Tibeto-Burmese Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family. Hani embraces three regional dialects: Ha-Ai, Bi-Ka, and Hao-Bai, which are further subdivided into ten local dialects. The Hani had no written language, but after 1949 the Chinese government developed a pinyin romanization system.

Demography. According to the 1982 Chinese government census there were 1,058,836 Hani living in Yunnan Province, southwestern China, with over 700,000 or 76 percent in the Mount Aiqian area. By 1990, the Hani population had increased to 1,253,952.

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