chapter  22
THE HLAI LANGUAGE
Pages 30

The Hlai language group consists of several varieties that are spoken in the south-central part of Hainan island, China. Since 1952, this area has been designated the Hainan Li-Miao Autonomous Prefecture consisting of eight counties: Changjiang, Dongfang, Ledong, Yaxian, Lingshui, Baoting, Qiongzhong, and Baisha. With a population of over one million (1,110,900 people, according to the 1990 census), the ethnic Hlai constitute more than half of the overall inhabitants of the prefecture. Nowadays, they are also found in adjacent counties such as Danzhou, Wanning, Qionghai, Tunchang, and Ding’an in the north and east of the prefecture. Historically, Hlai people are believed to have lived on the island long before other ethnic groups such as the Miao (linguistically Mun or a Yao group), the Han (Chinese) and the Be (a Kra-Dai group) migrated to the island over the course of the last millennium.