Yunnan is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the highest number of ethnic groups among all provinces and autonomous regions in China.Yunnan has the most ethnic minorities in China, which make up about 1/3 of the province's population. Of China's 55 ethnic minorities, the province is home to 51 and 25 of them exceed populations of 5,000.Among the country's 56 recognised ethnic groups, 25 are found in Yunnan. Some 38% of the province's population are members of minorities, including the Achang, Bai, Bulang, Buyi, Dai, De'ang, Dulong, Hani, Hui, Jingpo, Jinuo, Lahu, Lisu, Miao, Mongolian, Naxi, Nu, Pumi, Sani, Shui, Tibetan, Wa, Yao, Yi and Zhuang.
These ethnic minorities live together over vast areas in the region while some live in individual concentrated communities in small areas. The residences of the ethnic minorities are various and characteristic; their clothes are colorful and distinctive; some of them have their own languages and writings. Last, but not least, they celebrate varied and colorful festivals. The most famous ones include the Torch Festival of Yi Nationality, the March Fair of Bai Nationality, the Water-splashing Festival of Dai Nationality, the Zongge Festival of Jingpo Nationality and the Knife Pole Festival of Lisu Nationality, etc.
Several other groups are represented, but they live neither in compact settlements nor do they reach the required threshold of five thousand to be awarded the official status of being present in the province. Some groups, such as the Mosuo, who are officially recognised as part of the Naxi, have in the past claimed official status as a national minority, and are now recognised with the status of Mosuo people.
While the ethnic groups are widely distributed all over the province 10 of them are living in border areas and river valleys including the Achang, Bai, Buyei, Dai, Hui, Manchu (the Manchu, remnants of the Qing administration, do not live in compact settlements and are in all respects indistinguishable from the Han), Mongolian, Naxi, Shui and Zhuang, with a combined population of 4.5 million; those in low mountainous areas are the Blang Hani, Jingpo, Jino, Lahu, Va, and Yao with a combined population of about 5 million; and those in high mountainous areas are Drung, Lisu, Miao, Pumi and Tibetan, with a total population of about 4million.