Since Han Dynasty, country has maintained relatively systematic household statistics. However, official population statistics are not necessarily accurate: firstly, in ancient times there were many dependent people, and secondly, there were also many black courts. Therefore, data recorded by ancient officials can only be used as reference. Generally speaking, actual population is much higher than data recorded in historical books. The editor will briefly present total population data in Ge Jianxiong's History of Development of China's Population and Lu Yu and Teng Zezhi's General History of China's Population.
Xia, Shang, and Zhou were large, and China did not register households, so there is no demographic data. The Imperial Genealogy of Huangfumi of Western Jin Dynasty estimated that population of Xia Dynasty was 13.55 million, population of early Western Zhou Dynasty was 13.71 million, and population of early Eastern Zhou Dynasty was 11.84 million. incredible. According to assumption of General History of Chinese Population, population at beginning of Western Zhou Dynasty was no more than 5.5 million people, and at end of Western Zhou Dynasty it reached about 10 million people.
During Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, population of China began to grow rapidly, mainly due to introduction of iron plows and oxen, which greatly increased efficiency of agricultural production and increased population. In order to increase number of soldiers and food, state also actively encouraged agriculture, which accelerated development of agriculture and contributed to population growth. We can feel expansion of population from expansion of scale of war. At beginning of spring-autumn period, there were thousands of people on both sides. By end of spring-autumn period, it reached tens of thousands, and in Warring States Period it even reached hundreds of thousands (exaggerated).
It is estimated that peak population of Warring States period was 26 million. Specifically, about 5 million in Chu, 4 million in Qin, 4 million in Qi, 3.5 million in Zhao, 3.5 million in Wei, 2 million in Yang, 1.5 million in South Korea, 1 million in Song. and 1 million in Yue. If surrounding ethnic minorities are counted, it is estimated that there are 30 million of them. During Qin Dynasty War of Unification, population declined. After unification of Qin Dynasty, corvée labor was again encouraged, making population growth difficult. According to forecast of number of corvee in Qin dynasty, population of Qin dynasty was about 20 million people.
At beginning of Western Han Dynasty, population was between 15 and 18 million people. At beginning of Han Dynasty, country adopted a policy of recuperation, "government of Wen and Jing" appeared, and population grew rapidly, growth rate was 10-12%. At end of Emperor Wen's reign, number of Warring States of Ming Jin was restored to about 26 million, at end of Emperor Han Jing's reign it reached 30 million, and at beginning of Emperor Wu's reign it was 36 million. million During reign of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, due to increased taxes and corvee, population began to decrease due to frequent external wars, and it decreased to 32 million in second year of Yuan Dynasty. it is recorded that "household registration has halved". During "reign of Zhaoxuan", restoration was accepted again and population began to resume growth, reaching 50 million by time of Emperor Xuan's reign. During Emperor Yuan's reign, social conflicts escalated and population grew slowly, peaking at 59 million. If ethnic minorities are included, number is at least 65 million. In terms of geographical distribution, largest number in northern part of Western Han Dynasty was 42 million, five times that of southern part.
At turn of Han Dynasty, due to dictatorship of Wang Mang, Chimei Rebellion, and Green Forest Rebellion, population began to decline. At beginning of Eastern Han Dynasty, population of country was about 22 million people. Thereafter, Eastern Han dynasty recovered and population began to recover. During Emperor Ming's reign, "the world is peaceful and people are prosperous." Then social tensions escalated and population grew slowly, reaching 53 million in Hanhe period and more than 56 million in Hanhuan period. Ge Jianxiong suggested that population of early Eastern Han Dynasty was 30 million and peak must have been over 60 million. The General History of Population of China estimates that, including ethnic minorities, there may be 72 million. In terms of distribution, population of north is 40 million and population of south is 20 million.
In later years of Eastern Han Dynasty, Yellow Turban Rebellion, warlord struggles, and rampant epidemics greatly reduced population in north. Three Kingdoms has relatively few records of population of Three Kingdoms, which is not credible. Ge Jianxiong surmised, based on information such as military settlements and household registrations during Three Kingdoms period, that population was 22 million at start of Three Kingdoms period, with a peak of 37 million. After unification of Western Jin dynasty, economy initially recovered and population grew to 35 million.
After Yongjia rebellion, Western Jin dynasty perished and went south. At beginning of Eastern Jin Dynasty, population of south was about 10 million, and in later period it increased to over 17 million. At beginning of southern dynasties, population was between 18 and 20 million people. Later, area of the state of Chen shrank, and its population was only about 16 million people. After demise of Western Jin Dynasty, north fell into hand-to-hand combat of sixteen countries, and population was greatly reduced. By beginning of unification of Northern Wei Dynasty, population was about 18 million people. After reunification of Northern Wei Dynasty, population recovered to 35 million. Therefore, under Southern and Northern Dynasties, total population of country must have been over 50 million. The Sui Dynasty unified Southern and Northern Dynasties, and peak population reached 56 million to 58 million, while surrounding minority areas exceeded 60 million.
The war at end of Sui dynasty caused another large-scale population decline. Ge Jianxiong suggested that population of valley at end of Sui dynasty was only about 25 million people. After unification of Tang Dynasty, "Zhengguan Rule", "Zhengguan Legacy" and "Kaiyuan Prosperity" appeared, economy continued to recover, and population grew rapidly. It peaked in Kaiyuan period, between 80 million and 90 million, and finally broke record of 60 million set by Han Dynasty. After Anshi uprising, northern population lost half, and total population of country was only 46 million people. At end of Tang Dynasty, population as a whole grew slowly, reaching about 60 million people in 845. The population of south under Tang dynasty must have been 20 to 30 million, while population of north must have been 30 to 40 million.
At end of Tang Dynasty, Huang Chao and other rebellions led to a significant reduction in population. At end of Five Dynasties, population of country was about 30 million people. After reunification of Northern Song dynasty, industry and trade flourished, and population began to grow rapidly. Ge Jianxiong estimated that population of Northern Song Dynasty was over 100 million. The Southern Song Dynasty was located in south with a population of about 60 million. In addition, population of Liao State is about 4 million, while peak population of Jin State is 53 million. The other Xixia has over 4 million people, while Dali has over 1 million.
With rise of Mongolia, population declined significantly. After Mongolia destroyed kingdom of Jin and Xixia, population of north was only about 10 million people. Compared to massive population decline in north, population loss in south is smaller, reaching 10 million, with a remaining population of about 50 million. That is, after unification of Yuan Dynasty, population of country was almost 60 million people. After unification of Yuan Dynasty, country's population began to resume growth, peaking at over 85 million people.
At end of Yuan Dynasty, Red Scarf Army revolted and population dwindled. However, population decline at turn of Yuan and Ming dynasties was not serious, about 60 million people. Since then, population of Ming Dynasty has grown at a rate of 5% per year and peaked in 1600. According to "General History of Population of China", it was 160 million people. and Ge Jianxiong estimated them at 197 million. At end of Ming Dynasty, constant natural disasters, plague outbreaks, and peasant uprisings greatly reduced population. Before arrival of Qing army in 1644, population of Ming Dynasty was about 120 million.
In early days of Qing Dynasty, national warfare continued and population continued to decline. Causes included hand-to-hand combat and massacres of Nanming, Zhang Xianzhong, and Li Zicheng, as well as new wars and massacres caused by entry of Qing soldiers. By 1651, country's population reached its lowest point, between 50 and 60 million people. After that, Qing Dynasty unified whole country and began to recover, so population quickly recovered. Kangxi promulgated a policy of "dividing Ding into Mu", which accelerated population growth. By end of Kangxi period, country's population reached 150 million. From Kangxi to Qianlong, population continued to grow, exceeding 300 million in Qianlong period and reaching 430 million in 1850, peak population of Qing Dynasty.
It can be seen that every time there is a change of dynasty, there is a serious reduction in population. The wars of last years of dynasty were associated with class conflicts. When degree of land annexation exceeds carrying capacity of society, farmers are left to take risks and mobilize, causing havoc in world. After peasant uprising, a long-term field separatist regime was established in country, hand-to-hand fights continued, which led to a further reduction in population. When next dynasty is established, population of whole country will decrease, and contradiction between man and land will decrease, so that a new era of prosperity can be entered. However, this new dynasty also failed to suppress annexation of lands, and eventually peasant uprisings and warlords again entered the fray. The history of China develops along this spiral cycle.