Han Chinese, Dan in China

Joshua Project has identified the Han Chinese, Dan only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Dan prefer to call themselves Soisangyan, a name which means "water-borne people" in their dialect. Although they are officially classified as part of the Han Chinese nationality, most other people in southern China "attest the Dan are not Han Chinese at all, but rather a distinct minority race." Experts now generally agree that although the Dan are ethnolinguistically a Sinitic people, "there is no doubt that they have been discriminated against in the past, officially as well as socially. It is clear they have developed a strong sense of group identity. Other Chinese consider them an separate ethnic group. Such a castelike distinction is more typical of India than of China."


Chinese references to the Dan and their lives as boat people date back at least 800 years. The uniqueness of the Dan was enforced by tales describing how they had short legs, useful only for life at sea. Some stories alleged they had six toes and even a tail. In Hong Kong the status of the Dan has been greatly diminished in recent years since the government has outlawed the practice of living on boats.


Not surprisingly, all customs of the Dan revolve around their lives on the water. Whole families live on small boats that "seldom if ever touch the shore. Children are born and raised on the boats, and dogs, chickens, and cats move freely from deck to deck. In the old days little coffin boats carried each [Dan] person to his or her final resting place on land. For some, it was the first time on land as well as the last." The Chinese have a saying that a Dan person "on the water is a veritable dragon, on land is only a miserable worm."


The Dan developed their own religious beliefs relating to their unique lifestyles. They worship Tin Hau, the goddess of fishermen, whose image is carried in floating temples. They also honor the spirit of the fish and sea dragon.


Because of their close-knit families and unique, isolated culture, few Dan in China have ever been exposed to the gospel message. Churches have existed among the Dan in Hong Kong for more than 50 years, however, due to the efforts of mission agencies who specifically focused on them and boarded their boats to share the love of Christ. Most Dan can understand standard Cantonese and could be reached using materials in that language.

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

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-04-12
Video Links:
The Story of Xiao Nong
People Name General Han Chinese, Dan (Dan)
People Name in Country Han Chinese, Dan
Population in China 4,899,000
World Population 4,899,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Boat People, Dan, Danjia, Ngai, Soisangyan, Tanka, Xumin
Affinity Bloc East Asian Peoples
People Cluster Chinese
People Name General Han Chinese, Dan (Dan)
Ethnic Code MSY42a
People ID 18473
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 A 1972 study listed a population of about three million Dan people, historically known as the "Boat People," living along the coasts of southern China including Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan Island, and Macau. An additional 150,000 lived on boats in Hong Kong at the time. By the 1980s the number in Hong Kong had diminished to about 50,000. In addition, Dan people have migrated to several countries in Southeast Asia, where they are known by various names, including the official Ngai minority in Vietnam..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Chinese, Yue: Yuehai (4,899,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chinese, Yue: Yuehai 4,899,000
For Primary Language: Chinese, Yue

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1862-1903)
New Testament Yes   (1877)
Complete Bible Yes   (1894-1981)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Chinese Union Version, Shangti Edition, Simplified Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Chinese Union Version, Shangti Edition, Simplified Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Chinese Union Version, Shen Edition, Simplified Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Chinese Union Version, Shen Edition, Simplified Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Revised Chinese Union Version, Traditional Text / Printed Matter
Bible: 新譯本(繁體字版) Text / Printed Matter
Four Spiritual Laws General
God's Story Video Film / Video
Jesus Film: view in Chinese, Yue Film / Video
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online New Testament - Cantonese (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online New Testament - Revised Union (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online New Testament - Simplified (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online New Testament - Union (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online Scripture (Talking Bibles) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
5.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.35 %)
0.70 %
Ethnic Religions
69.50 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
24.80 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
89.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
1.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
10.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Video Source: Create International
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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