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.
Location. Most of the 575,000 Lisu in China live in concentrated communities in Bijiang, Fugong, Gongshan, and Lushui counties in the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern Yunnan Province. Others are scattered elsewhere in western Yunnan or in southern Sichuan Province. The main area of settlement lies in the mountainous areas and river basins of the Nu and Lancang rivers. Average annual temperature along the river basins is between 17° and 26° C, and annual rainfall averages 250 centimeters.
Linguistic Affiliation. The language belongs to the Yi Branch of Tibeto-Burmese, Sino-Tibetan Language Family, and is closely related to Lahu. In 1957, the government introduced a new alphabetic script to replace both a missionary-devised alphabetized system and one based on Chinese ideographs that had limited use prior to 1949.