The Li or Hlai are a minority ethnic group, the vast majority of whom live off the southern coast of mainland China on Hainan Island, where they are the largest minority ethnic group. Divided into the five branches of the Qi, Ha, Run, Sai and Meifu, the Li have their own distinctive culture and customs. They refer to themselves as the Hlai people, but they are sometimes colloquially known as "Sai" or "Say", and during the Sui Dynasty they were known by the name Liliao. The Li form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. The Li are believed to be descendants of the ancient Yue tribes of China, who settled on the island thousands of years ago. DNA analysis carried out amongst the modern Li population indicate a close relationship with populations in mainland southern China and in particular Guangxi province. During the Japanese occupation of Hainan (1939_1945), the Li suffered heavily.
Contributions by Kwamikagami, Badagnani, and Bathrobe.