Shan is possibly amongst the rarest Chinese surnames. It would usually relate to Shanshan, which is located in the border of northern China. The surname ''Shan'' originated in the Shanshan kingdom in 54.
Shan , another rare Chinese surname of the same pronunciation but different character. According to many ancient records, Shan is a place name, which is today's Shan County of Shandong Province. After the Zhou dynasty enforced the so-called enfeoffment system, Zhou Chengwang's youngest son got Shan, thus his family got the surname of Shan ever since. In fact, the Shan kingdom existed for a few hundred years before it was annexed by the nearby strong kingdom. The Shan history is recorded in a number of ancient books, showing the evolution of the Zhou Dynasty. Although the surname comes from the place name, the Shan family is a branch of the royal family of the Zhou Dynasty. Its ancient origin determines its rareness and not many people are in the Shan family. According to one estimate, about 150,000 people are of the surname.
Most of people of the Shan surname still live in Shandong, Henan, Hebei and many other provinces. However, some Shan could be found in Taiwan and overseas Chinese communities throughout the world. A famous bishop in Taiwan Paul Kuo-hsi Shan is of the Shan family. The legendary hero, Shan Xiongxin , is often used to refer to the surname. However, there have been many other famous personages of the Shan family throughout Chinese history. The twenty-four histories, provincial annals and county registers contain many interesting stories of people of the Shan surname.
It should be noted that some ethnic peoples adopted Shan as their surname since the pronunciation of their ethnic names are close to Shan, for example, some Manchu and Hui choose Shan as their family name . Majority of the Shan are of Han nationality and they can trace their origin to the Zhou period.