China: Hainan's Li Minority

74 images Created 3 Sep 2011

The Li or Hlai minority are one of China's recognised 56 ethnic groups. Many live along China's Southern coast line but probably the most traditional live in the centre of Hainan Island.

Hainan is China's Hawaii, a tropical island paradise. Since the 1980s, mass tourism has brought prosperity to islanders, and developers have carved up its fertile forests. But not everyone has benefited. In the mountainous interior, some villages have barely joined the modern world. Their mud houses with thatched roofs are unchanged in centuries, as is their method of subsistence farming. The inhabitants are ethnic Li, a minority group on Hainan that has long rebelled against China's autocratic rule. Their elderly women still bear tattoos on their faces.

Now the Li are keen to join the booming market economy, and to move into modern government-built houses and send their children to school.
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