East Asian people
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The East Asian people are indigenous to East Asia, which consists of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea, and for some authors, Vietnam. Major ethnic groups of East Asia are: Han, Japanese, and Koreans. Other ethnic groups of East Asia include: Manchus,Tibetans, Mongols, Uyghurs, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Ryukyuan. However, Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz peoples who live in East Asia are not considered East Asians but Central Asian and are of mixed Mongoloid and Caucasoid origin. Indigenous people of Northeast Asia such as Buryats, Evenks, and Yakuts are geographically and racially East Asian but due to the national and political dividing lines, East Asians north of China and Mongolia are not politically East Asian.
The dominant influence historically has been China, whose area of cultural influence is generally known as the Sinosphere. Evidence of this can be seen in the cuisine, architecture, and lexicons, for example, throughout the region; in modern times, however, cultural exchange has flowed more bi-directionally. Major characteristics of this region include shared Chinese-derived language characteristics, as well as similar social and moral philosophies derived from Confucianism.
The script of the Han Chinese has long been a unifying feature in East Asia as the vehicle for Chinese culture. It was passed on first to Korea, Vietnam in the 1st century, then to Japan, where it forms a major component of the Japanese writing system. In Korea, however, Sejong the Great invented the hangul alphabet based on the Chinese characters, which has since been used as the main orthographic system for the Korean language. A similar phenomenon occurred in Vietnam, where the Chinese-based Chữ nôm script once used to write the Vietnamese language has been gradually superseded by the Latin-based Vietnamese alphabet during the period of the French colonisation. In Japan, much of the Japanese language is written in hiragana, katakana in addition to Chinese characters.
Apart from the unifying influence of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese characters, Chinese architecture, and other Chinese cultural influences, there is nevertheless diversity between the countries of the region.
The vast majority of East Asian people – about 1.6 billion – live in East Asia.
Of about 40 million "overseas Chinese"[Note 1] worldwide, nearly 30 million live in Southeast Asia. They are collectively called Nanyang Chinese. According to a population genetic study, Singapore is "the country with the biggest proportion of Hans" in Southeast Asia. Up until the past few decades, overseas Han communities originated predominantly from areas in southern China (especially the Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang areas). Christmas Island also has a Chinese majority at 70%. Large Chinese populations also live in Malaysia (25%), Thailand (14%).
Malaysia and Singapore used to have the largest overseas Chinese population (in terms of absolute numbers) in the world before the country split up in 1965. This rank has been replaced by Thailand.
- Overseas Chinese include both Han and non-Han people (see overseas Chinese for related references).
- Yim, Onn Siong (2005). Y chromosome diversity in Singaporean Han Chinese population subgroups (Master). National University of Singapore.