City of Sanya
Sanya Bay
Location of Sanya City jurisdiction in Hainan
Location of Sanya City jurisdiction in Hainan
Sanya is located in Hainan
Location of the city centre in Hainan
Coordinates (Sanya municipal government): 18°15′12″N 109°30′13″E / 18.25333°N 109.50361°E / 18.25333; 109.50361
Country China
 • CPC Municipal SecretaryJiang Sixian
 • Prefecture-level city1,919.58 km2 (741.15 sq mi)
 • Urban
1,919.58 km2 (741.15 sq mi)
 • Metro
1,315.3 km2 (507.8 sq mi)
 (2020 census)
 • Prefecture-level city1,031,396
 • Density540/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density540/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density610/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
 • Prefecture-level cityCN¥ 83.5 billion
US$ 12.9 billion
 • Per capitaCN¥ 79,100
US$ 12,261
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code0898
ISO 3166 codeCN-HI-02
Licence plate prefixes琼B
"Sanya" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese三亚
Traditional Chinese三亞
Literal meaningThird below the second

Sanya[a] is the southernmost city on Hainan Island, and one of the four prefecture-level cities of Hainan Province in South China.

According to the 2020 census, the total population of Sanya was 1,031,396 inhabitants,[2] living in an area of 1,919.58 km2 (741.15 sq mi). Nevertheless, its built-up (or metro) area encompassing Haitang and Jiyang Districts was home to 801,020 inhabitants as of 2020.

The city is renowned for its tropical climate and has emerged as a popular tourist destination, also serving as the training site of the Chinese national beach volleyball team. Sanya is home to small concentrations of Utsul people. Sanya is also the location of Yulin Naval Base, a major military facility on the South China Sea which is home to the People's Liberation Army Navy ballistic nuclear missile fleet.


Known in ancient times as Yazhou, postal romanization: Aichow (崖州), literally "cliff state or prefecture", Sanya's history dates to the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE). Due to its remoteness from the political centers during the Qin dynasty, Sanya was sometimes called Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角), meaning "the end of the sky and ocean" or "the end of the earth". As a result, the city served as a place of exile for officials who found themselves out of favor with the country's rulers.

During the Tang dynasty, a Buddhist monk accidentally landed here, using the site as a staging post on his missionary journey to Japan.[3]

20th century

1962 map of Sanya

In 1912, Yazhou became Yaxian (Yai-hsien) (崖县; postal: Aihsien).

In 1958, administration of Yaxian relocated from Yacheng to Sanya and Yaxian merged with Baoting, Lingshui, Niulou, and Xinglong, Wanning, to become a large county. In 1959 and 1961, these areas were separated to establish Baoting and Lingshui while Yaxian County remained in its current prefecture. Approved by the State Council of China, Yaxian was upgraded to Sanya City on 26 September 1987 and Sanya City was officially established on 30 December 1987.[4]

In 2007, the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the city of Sanya would become the first leg of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in China.[5]


Sanya city map

Sanya lies at the southern tip of Hainan Island on Sanya Bay. Located at 18° 15' N latitude, Sanya is–after Sansha (also administered by Hainan Province)–the second-southernmost prefecture-level city nationally. Though the administrative area (Sanya City) has a rough topography, the city itself is generally flat, lying on a parcel of land between low-level mountains to the north and the South China Sea.


A beach in Sanya

The area has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen Aw),[6] featuring hot weather all year around. Monsoonal influences are strong, with a relatively lengthy wet season and a pronounced dry season. The coolest month is January, with an average high temperature of 26.9 °C (80.4 °F), while the hottest, unlike much of the rest of China, is June, with an average high temperature of 32.5 °C (90.5 °F); the mean annual high temperature is 30.2 °C (86.4 °F). Water temperatures remain above 22 °C (72 °F) year-round.[7]

Since meteorological records began, the average annual temperature in Sanya has warmed in fluctuations. Taking 2023 as an example, the average annual temperature in Sanya is 27.0 °C (80.6 °F), 0.5°C higher than the average from 1991 to 2020, with the average temperature of the coldest month (January) being 22.2 °C (72.0 °F) and the hottest month (June) being 29.9 °C (85.8 °F).[8]

Climate data for Sanya (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.4
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 26.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 19.6
Record low °C (°F) 5.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 6.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 3.4 3.6 3.9 5.6 10.0 14.0 13.8 16.0 17.0 13.5 6.6 3.7 111.1
Average relative humidity (%) 84.3 85.8 83.9 80.4 76.0 73.8 72.0 73.5 79.5 81.8 82.0 82.8 79.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 158.7 140.8 137.1 154.9 191.6 172.7 178.1 167.9 160.4 166.1 161.3 165.7 1,955.3
Percent possible sunshine 46 43 37 41 48 44 44 43 44 46 48 49 44
Average ultraviolet index 9 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 10 9 8 11
Source 1: China Meteorological Administration (sun 2009–2020)[9][10]
Source 2: Weather China (extremes)[11]


Before 30 July 2014, there was direct jurisdiction over four county-level districts and two township-level subdistricts (乡级管理区; xiāngjí guǎnlǐqū), six towns (; zhèn) and four state-run farms in Sanya City. Now there are four districts in Sanya.

District Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2010 census)
Jiyang 吉阳区 Jíyáng Qū 257,061 372 691.02
Tianya 天涯区 Tiānyá Qū 269,935 944 285.94
Haitang 海棠区 Hǎitáng Qū 76,562 255 300.24
Yazhou 崖州区 Yázhōu Qū 160,000 347 460.10


In recent years Sanya has become a popular tourist destination. Numerous international five star hotel chains are now established in the area. In 2009, the luxury Mandarin Oriental, Sanya hotel opened in the Dadong Hai area, the first Mandarin Oriental property on Hainan Island. There are now over 100 hotels, ranging from international brands to locally managed resorts.

Russian and English signs can be seen throughout the city. In response to claims of over-charging of tourists (whether foreign or Chinese) at restaurants in the city,[12] Hainan government officials and Sanya city officials have vowed to crack down on the practice.[13] The Sanya Industrial and Commercial Bureau has implemented a real-time information system of the city's seafood restaurants during the May Day holiday for public supervision in order to stop any future price gouging by restaurants.

Sanya also hosts the Guanyin of Nanshan, that is located within the Nanshan Temple (Sanya).

Nature reserves of Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park (亚龙湾热带 天堂森林公园) and Sanya Coral Reef National Nature Reserve (三亚珊瑚礁国家级自然保护区) are located nearby Yalong Bay, and Yalong Bay National Tourism Holiday Resort was created. In recent years, as the waters of Sanya Bay and others below mentioned are becoming clearer and healthier, several species of dolphins, including endangered Chinese white dolphins, appear along the coasts from time to time. However, they have not been considered as targeted tourism attractions.[14][15]


The city is served by Sanya Phoenix International Airport. Taxis are available throughout the city.

Buses from other parts of Hainan serve Sanya's bus terminal. The No. 8 bus connects the airport to Dadonghai Beach. From there tourists can take the 24 or 25 bus to Yalong Bay or the 28 bus to Haitang Bay. There is also a free bus from Luhuitou Square to the Duty-Free Shopping Center at Haitang Bay, the largest such center in China.

Hainan East Ring Intercity Rail

The Hainan East Ring Intercity Rail links Sanya and Haikou and runs along the east coast of Hainan Island. There are 15 stations in between, either in operation or still under construction. Trains are designed to travel at 250 km/h (160 mph). Travel time from Sanya to Haikou is approximately 1 hour and 22 minutes. The Hainan Western Ring High-Speed Railway, running along the west coast of the province also links Sanya to Haikou.


Main article: Sanya Tram

A tram approaching to Jiangang Road station

Sanya's tram service began trial operation on 7 January 2019.[16] Trams are composed of five carriages with a maximum seating capacity of 362 people. In built up and urbanised areas, the maximum speed of the tram is 50 km/h. The current tram route begins at Sanya Railway Station and finishes at Jiangang Road Station, which is currently the southernmost railway station in China. Full operation of the first line started on 10 October 2020.

Social services


There are a total of 54 hospitals in Sanya as of March 2019, both public hospitals funded by the state and private hospitals. There are also numerous clinics for doing annual health-checks, which are usually brands of national chains in China, such as Ciming Healthcheck.

Hainan 301 Hospital, a branch hospital of People's Liberation Army General Hospital, is located in the Haitang Bay area of Sanya.[17] The hospital possesses a substantial number of state-of-the-art equipment for medical and research purposes which include a Da Vinci surgical system, different MIR system (including 1.5T MRI 3.0T MRI), Helical CT facilities (including 128-Slices CT), medical linear accelerator and electronic microscopes which are worth more than 450 million yuan. The hospital has 500 patient beds, and a total of 74 clinical, medical and nursing departments.

Sanya Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital (三亚市中医院) is located on Fenghuang Road.[18] It is a grade-A tertiary hospital offering medical care, education, research, healthcare services and International Chinese Medicine exchange and cooperation.


Colleges and universities

See also: List of universities and colleges in Hainan

Sanya University (三亚学院) Located at Xueyuan Rd., Yingbin Ave. Sanya Hainan 572022. Sanya University is an independent undergraduate university. The university has fourteen schools: Social Development, Law, Finance and Economics, Management, Tourism Management, Humanities and Communication, Arts, Foreign Languages, Engineering, Physical Education, General Education & Foundation Courses, International Tourism, International Education and Music, and other, and offers 56 undergraduate majors.[19]

Qiongzhou University (琼州大学) is located at 1 Yucai Road. The only public university located in Sanya, Qiongzhou is actively pursuing more foreign enrollments, hoping to attract Chinese tourism and language students to the city.[20] Courses offered to international students are: elementary Chinese, intermediate Chinese, advanced Chinese (listening, speaking, reading and writing), English, Russian (listening, speaking, reading and writing), Chinese calligraphy and painting, Chinese martial arts, Chinese history, studies of Li and Miao Cultures, tourism and recreational management, and music performance.

Primary and secondary schools

The city government states on its website that "Being the second-largest city in Hainan, the education in Sanya is relatively better than the average level in Hainan Province" but that the kindergartens are not as good as those in major Chinese cities and that the primary and secondary schools are still below the Chinese national average.[21]

According to the city government, Primary schools No.7 and No.9 are the best in the city and that Bayi Primary School "is also of good quality".[21] The city government identifies the best lower secondary (junior high school) and upper secondary (senior high school) institutions as Sanya Shiyan Middle School and Sanya No.1 High School, respectively.[21]

The International School of Sanya (formerly Canadian International School of Sanya) is the first school to offer two programs: Canadian and Mandarin, in Hainan. The school has announced its relocation to the BanShanBanDao -Serenity Coast (半山半岛) residential area in August 2014, where the new campus will offer pre-K. day students and boarding facilities for students.[citation needed]


The city has hosted:

Sister cities

Country City Date
 United States Alhambra, California 1994.10.05
 Philippines Lapu-Lapu 1997.07.19
 France Cannes 1997.11.17
 South Korea Seogwipo 2008.04.04
 Mexico Cancún 2010.08.10
 Russia Khabarovsk 2011.11.28
 United Kingdom Blackpool 2016.09.06
 Malaysia George Town, Penang 2017[26]



  1. ^ Chinese: 三亚; also spelled Samah


  1. ^ 海南省统计局、国家统计局海南调查总队 (November 2022). 《海南统计年鉴-2022》. 中国统计出版社. ISBN 978-7-5037-7838-4. Retrieved 19 March 2023.
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