BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Among every hundred Chinese people, 7.4 are surnamed "Li," dubbing the most popular family name in China, said a survey supported by China's National Natural Science Foundation.
Following "Li," "Wang" and "Zhang" become the second and third biggest surnames in China, accounting for 7.2 and 6.8 percent of the total population respectively, the survey said.
The survey, conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and a Shenzhen based company named Dinchang, has investigated about 1,110 counties and cities covering nearly 296 million people with altogether 4,100 surnames.
China is the earliest country in the world to use family name, dating back to 5,000 years ago. Surnames in China have been passed down through paternity.
Two decades ago, CAS published its first ordering of Chinese family names, which found the first three big surnames also Li, Zhang and Wang, however, their proportions against the whole population were 7.9, 7.4 and 7.1 percent respectively, higher than the present findings.
"The decline of the three big name owners actually is a matter of research methods," said Yuan Yida, a surveyor with the CAS, "Last time's sample population was only 570,000, this time, however, is nearly 300 million. It's incomparable."
To find the data and distribution of Chinese family names could help to find the diversity status of Chinese chromosome Y and the disease distribution, according to Yuan.
Apart from the scientific ranking, A Collection of Chinese Family Names has been quite popular for generations. The book was edited by an unknown intellectual in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). He collected 504 family names according to rhymes, making it easy to memorize.
The book has profound influence on Chinese as many children start to learn Chinese characters by reciting it. Enditem