Hainan people

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Total population
(estimated ~10 million worldwide)
Regions with significant populations
Hainan, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia)
Hainanese, Standard Chinese, Cantonese, Hlai languages, Kim Mun, Tsat, Danzhou dialect and various languages of the countries they inhabit
Chinese Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion.
Related ethnic groups
Other Han Chinese (especially Southern Min speakers)
Southern Min-speaking areas in South China.

The people of Hainan (Chinese: 海南人), known as Hainanese and Hainan people, usually refers to people who originate from Hainan, the southernmost and smallest Chinese province. The term "Hainanese" was frequently used by Hainanese-speaking Han (Chinese: 海南漢人), who are the majority in the island, to identify themselves overseas. Nevertheless, other natives of the island such as Hlai (Chinese: 黎族), Yao (Chinese: 苗族 "Miao people") and Utsuls also use the term.


Most Hainanese Han people were originally fishermen from the Fujian and Guangdong provinces who later settled in Hainan, while the Li natives came to the island earlier and were descendants of the Yue tribe, from the mainland. The ancestors of the Min Hainanese-speaking people came from Fujian, and the ancestors of the Danzhou-speaking people came from Guangdong.

Similarly to Fujian and Guangdong province, Hainan has been the source for much migration. Towards the turn of the 20th century, many Hainanese migrated to various Southeast Asian countries, where they worked as cooks, restaurateurs, coffee shop owners, sailors, and hoteliers. Chan Sing, one of the "villain" movie stars that dotted the Hong Kong movie industry was of Hainanese roots, as was the bartender who invented the world-famous Singapore Sling at the renowned Singapore Raffles Hotel, Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon. In Thailand, singer Nichkhun, media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, the politically influential Sarasin family, as well as two of the wealthiest business families, the Chirathivats and the Yoovidhyas, trace their ancestry to Hainan.



In Hainan, Standard Chinese is typically the lingua franca as in the rest of China. With Hainan's proximity to Guangdong, some locals can also understand Cantonese. The local Han Chinese speak Hainanese, a Southern Min language also known as Qiongwen, as their mother tongue. The dialect of Wenchang is considered to be the prestige dialect.[1]


Main article: Hainan cuisine

The Hainanese are known for their signature dishes such as the Hainanese chicken rice, Wenchang chicken, Hainanese pork chop, Hainanese mutton soup, Hainanese salted fish soup and beef noodle soup.

Notably, in Singapore, these signature dishes are served at the various eateries located along Purvis Street, within the Hainanese enclave; accordingly, Purvis Street is often referred to as "Singapore's Hainan Street".[citation needed] Hainanese chicken rice is a recognised dish throughout Southeast Asia due to the Hainanese diaspora in these areas who famed it. It is often labelled as Singapore's national dish.[2]


Hainanese Opera (Qiong Opera) is a passion for many Hainanese, particularly for the older generation. Enriched with local flavours, Hainanese Opera is part and parcel of Hainanese culture.

See also[edit]