Li people

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Animism, Theravada Buddhism

The Li (; pinyin: Lí) or Hlai are a minority Chinese ethnic group, the vast majority of whom live off the southern coast of mainland China on Hainan, where they are the largest minority ethnic group.

They refer to themselves as the Hlai people, but they are sometimes colloquially known as "Sai" or "Say", and during the Sui Dynasty they were known by the name Liliao.

Li form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.

The Li suffered heavily under the Japanese occupation, and they are held in high esteem by the Beijing government because they fought on the side of the CPC against Chinese Nationalist rule during the Chinese Civil War.[1] They speak their own Hlai language, a member of the Tai-kadai language group, but most can understand or speak Hainanese and Mandarin—and it is also common for Li people to learn and speak Cantonese because many Li in Hainan relocate to Cantonese-speaking areas in southern mainland China near Hainan (such as Guangzhou and HK).


The Li play a traditional wind instrument called kǒuxiāo (口箫)[2], and another called lìlāluó (利拉罗).

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