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in Hainan - the smallest and southernmost province of the People's Republic of China (PRC), consisting of various islands in the South China Sea. Hainan Island, the largest and most populous island in China, makes up the vast majority (97%) of the province. The name means "south of the sea", reflecting the island's position south of the Qiongzhou Strait, which separates it from Leizhou Peninsula and the Chinese mainland.
The province has a land area of 33,920 square kilometers (13,100 sq mi), of which Hainan Island is 32,900 square kilometers (12,700 sq mi) and the rest is over 200 islands scattered across three archipelagos: Zhongsha, Xisha and Nansha. It was part of Guangdong from 1950 to 1988, after which it was made a province of its own and was designated as a special economic zone by Deng Xiaoping, as part of the Chinese economic reform program.
Indigenous peoples like the Hlai, a Kra–Dai-speaking ethnic group, are native to the island and compose 15% of the population. Their native languages include the Hlai languages. The Hlai are recognized by the Chinese government as one of the country's 56 ethnic groups. The Chinese population, who compose a majority of the population at 82%, speak a wide variety of languages including Standard Chinese, Hainam Min, Yue Chinese, Cantonese, Hakka Chinese, etc. Speakers of Be, despite speaking a Kra-Dai language, are reckoned officially as ethnically Chinese. Hainan is also home to the Jiamao language, of disputed provenance.
There are ten major cities and ten counties in Hainan Province. The capital of the province is Haikou, on the northern coast of Hainan Island, while Sanya is a well-known tourist destination on the southern coast. The other major cities are Wenchang, Sansha, Qionghai, Wanning, Wuzhishan, Dongfang and Danzhou.
In 2020, a large-scale plan was announced by the Chinese government to transform the entire island province into a free trade port, with the aim of turning it into the largest free-trade port in the world by 2035. The plan involves building a hub for offshore financing and duty free shopping, as well as using lower taxes and reduced visa requirements to help draw in foreign businesses and tourists. Moreover, all goods sold from Hainan to other parts of China would be treated as imports from 2025 onward.