Li people

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Total population
1.3 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Hainam, China
Hlai languages,
Hainanese and Mandarin
Animism and Buddhism

The Hlai or Li (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) are an ethnic group living primarily on the island of Hainam, off the southern coast of mainland China and just east of Vietnam. The Hlai are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Chinese government.

The Hlai were known to the Sui Dynasty Chinese by the name Liliao. Presently they refer to themselves as the Hlai or Sai people. The ethnic group is called in Mandarin and Lai in Cantonese.

The Hlai people have their own language. Some dialects of the Hlai language are too different from each other for people to mutually understand each other. The Hlai language is distantly related to languages such as Thai, Lao, and Cuengh. The Hlai language did not have a writing system before the 1950s, when the Latin alphabet was adopted. Some to most Hlai people nowadays can understand Mandarin and Hainanese.