Gepo, Western in China

Joshua Project has identified the Gepo, Western only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Western Gepo are one of approximately 120 distinct ethnic groups that have been combined to form the official Yi nationality in China. Although they use the same autonym, Gepo, as the Eastern Gepo people farther east in Yunnan Province, the two groups speak widely different languages. Local Chinese people call this group Baiyiren, "white-clad people." Gepo, in their own language, may mean "white people."


The history of most of the people groups in northern and western Yunnan has been one of conflict, warfare, and bloodshed. Great battles were waged over land, with smaller groups like the Western Gepo invariably losing out to the stronger and more powerful alliances. As a result, many of the Yi groups in Yunnan have become more pacified than their wild counterparts in Sichuan and the adjoining parts of northern Yunnan.


The Chinese themselves were often caught up in fighting between the different Yi groups. One traveler, who journeyed through the mountainous area near where the Western Gepo live, wrote, "As one travels further north the Lolos [Yi] become more numerous and more aggressive, until the Chinese are veritably besieged in their valley. We heard of nothing but the exploits of these brigands, who fall upon the valley, kill travelers, and pillage the inhabitants. All the villages are fortified, and posts occupied by peasants armed with pikes, tridents, sabers, and sometimes with indifferent flintlocks, are permanently established along the roadside."


Today most Western Gepo lead quiet lives as hardworking agriculturists. They enjoy relatively good relations with their neighbors, even with the Nosu who used to force them to do menial labor.


The Western Gepo are among the most unreached people groups in northern Yunnan Province. They live in an unevangelized corridor, while many Lisu Christians live farther to the west and the Eastern Lipo and Naluo churches are situated to the east. These believers could potentially be mobilized to take the gospel to the Western Gepo and other unreached peoples in Heqing.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Gepo, Western (Geh-po)
People Name in Country Gepo, Western
Population in China 8,300
World Population 8,300
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Baiyiren, Gepo, Luo, Tujia
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Gepo, Western (Geh-po)
Ethnic Code MSY50z
People ID 18462
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country An estimated 6,500 Western Gepo live in many of the villages within the Liuhe District of Heqing County in the northern part of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. The Western Gepo are located in the northwestern part of Yunnan Province, not far from the main road between the tourist towns of Dali and Lijiang..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Gepo (8,300)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Gepo 8,300
For Primary Language: Gepo

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
95.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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