Hainan Province, called "Qiong" for short, is situated in the southernmost of China. Haikou is its capital. The island, rising from the vast South China Sea, has a total population of 6,150,800 and a population density of 181 people per square kilometre (1987 figures). The province is administratively divided into the Hainan, Nansha, Xisha, Zhongsha islands, etc. It also has three municipalities, 16 counties and the agencies of the Xisha, Nansha, Zhongsha islands. The overwhelming majority of the population is Han nationality--totaling 84.1 percent of the population--and the rest are the Li, Miao, Hui and other minority nationalities. The Li nationality has a population of 980,400 people, and the Miao, 45,600.
Most of the Li, Miao, and Hui minority people inhabit middle and south Hainan. There are five Li autonomous counties, two Li and Miao autonomous counties, four Li autonomous towns, two Miao autonomous towns and one Li and Miao autonomous town in the province.
Hainan Province is also one of the well-known origins of overseas Chinese. Nearly two million overseas Chinese, including Chinese compatriots in Hongkong, Macao and Taiwan, are from the province. They are widely distributed in 53 countries and regions in the world, particularly in Thailand, Indonesia and Viet Nam. There are one million overseas Chinese and their relatives live in the province. The hometowns of overseas Chinese are mainly in Wenchang, Qionghai, Qiongshan and Waning counties.
In September 1987 preparations began for establishing Hainan Province. The First Session of the Seventh National People's Congress adopted a proposal to establish Hainan Province on April 13, 1988, and decided in the meantime to designate Hainan Island as the Hainan Special Economic Zone. This strategic decision is of profound significance for speeding up the development and construction of Hainan Province, improving the people's material and cultural life, further strengthening national unity, consolidating China's defenses, supporting construction in the whole country and promoting the unification of our motherland.
Located in the tropical region, the vast area of Hainan Island has rich resources of light and energy, plentiful rainfall, comfortable living conditions even in the winter and high-potential photosynthesis. It is a precious island, containing the most abundant tropical resources; there have been great economic benefits with only a small amount of investment. In terms of maritime space Hainan Province plays an important part in the national defence and economy-because of its strategic location it not only controls coastal communications in South China but also stands at the key junction between Guangdong Province and Guangxi Province and is a strategic passage for the entire South.