Identity The Jin were formerly considered part of the Xibei Guanhua dialect of Mandarin, but many scholars now consider them a distinct language group.
History The Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC): Although it lasted a mere 14 years, the Qin Dynasty constituted the first unified Chinese empire, under Emperor Qin Shihuang. Ascending the throne at the age of 13, Qin is remembered for his ghastly acts of cruelty and torture of innocents. His dynasty left its mark on China in many ways, including the start of nearly 2,000 years of strong, centralized government. China's currency and script were standardized for the first time. The construction of the Great Wall was commenced, and Qin organized the country into provinces through divisions remarkably similar to the provincial boundaries still used today. It was during his brief reign that the 6,000 Terracotta Soldiers were constructed to represent a vigilant army to protect Qin's tomb. The Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220): The Chinese consider the Han one of the golden periods of their history. For the first time, China extended its borders by military campaigns, bringing China into contact with foreigners.
Customs The Jin Chinese live in what the Chinese historically viewed as the most backward and far-flung part of China. This has made them a resilient and hardworking people.
Religion The majority of Jin Chinese are atheists. Shanxi Province has long been a power base of the Communists.
Christianity Christianity in China is generally believed to have been introduced by the Nestorians around AD 635. However, some scholars believe it may have already been introduced by the Seres around AD 300, or by the Persians in AD 455. Traditionally, some Christians believed that China first received the gospel from St. Thomas, who before his martyrdom reportedly left India and "set sail into China on board of Chinese ships and landed at a town named Camballe." Today, there are an estimated 1.2 million Jin Chinese believers. Hebei - where more than 10 million Jin speakers live - is the strongest Catholic region in China with more than 800,000 church members. Two-thirds of the population of Shanxi Province are Jin. Recent research indicates there are 200,000 Protestants in Shanxi Province alone.
More than 50 million speakers of the Jin Chinese language, called Jinyu, inhabit parts of five provinces in northern China: Shanxi (22.3 million speakers by the year 2000), Hebei (10.6 million), areas north of the Yellow River in Henan (9.4 million), Inner Mongolia (8.2 million), and the northern part of Shaanxi (3.2 million). Jin is spoken in a total of 175 cities and counties throughout northern China. (Source: Operation China, 2000)