Nu - Orientation

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 valleys are at 800 meters. Climate is temperate to semitropical, with heavy rainfall. Various streams and the Nu River (Salween) cut through the region. Population in the 1990 census was 27,000. Nu speak a Tibeto-Burman language, which divides into three or four distinctive sublanguages. The language spoken in Gongshan County is mutually intelligible with Drung but not with the other Nu languages. Chinese linguists hold that Bijiang speech is close to Yi (Loloish). Some Nu also speak Lisu, Bai, or Chinese. All Nu regard themselves as culturally distinct from these other ethnicities and claim to be the original inhabitants of the area. Despite government assistance, the area remains one of the poorest in Yunnan and in China generally. The state has assisted in building roads and bridges and has expanded the rural school system. All schooling is in Chinese.

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