Limi in China

Joshua Project has identified the Limi only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Limi are one of more than 100 groups in Yunnan who have been combined into the official Yi nationality by the Chinese authorities. The Limi were first documented by China Inland Mission's John Kuhn in the 1940s. In his benchmark book, We Found a Hundred Tribes, Kuhn listed the Limi as a Lolo-speaking group located at "Qingku." Qingku is the pre-1949 spelling of today's Jinggu County in Simao Prefecture.


The Limi claim that their ancestors came from a place called Dayuandi in Jingdong County long ago. They reportedly were slaves of a tyrannical master. One day the Limi escaped en masse and won their freedom. They moved to their present locations where they settled down and started new communities.


Compared to other Yi groups in the area, such as the Western Gaisu and some of the Laluo, the Limi culture has been well preserved. Until recently the Limi strictly refused to intermarry with the Han Chinese or even with other Yi groups. Because of this, they have gained a reputation for being something of an isolated, inward-looking group who have little contact with other people. The Limi joyously celebrate several festivals throughout the course of the year.


Polytheism, animism, and ancestor worship prevail among the Limi. Regular ceremonies are held to worship the spirits and honor their ancestors.


The independent mind-set of the Limi has contributed to them being unreached and largely unevangelized today. Few missionaries worked in the area prior to the expulsion of foreigners from China in the 1950s. If the Limi had been so fortunate to have workers like Gladys Aylward focusing on them, they would have been greatly blessed. Aylward described the hardship she faced daily in China: "Life is pitiful, death so familiar, suffering and pain so common, yet I would not be anywhere else. Do not wish me out of this, or in any way seek to get me out, for I will not be got out while this trial is on. These are my people, God has given them to me, and I will live or die with them for Him and His glory."

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

People Name General Limi (Lee-mee)
People Name in Country Limi
Population in China 37,000
World Population 37,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Limi (Lee-mee)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18554
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 Approximately 30,000 Limi live within southern Yunnan Province in southwest China. The majority inhabit areas within Yongde County. They are the majority group within the Wumulong District and make up a sizable portion of the population in Yalian District. Four thousand Limi live in Fengqing County where they are principally found in the southern part of Guodazhai District and in the southeastern part of Yingpan District. An additional 1,000 Limi live in Yunxian County..   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)
Limi (37,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Limi 37,000
For Primary Language: Limi

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
97.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.00 %
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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