The Triads are one of many criminal organizations commonly found in Chinese communities. It is the world's largest and oldest criminal society, twice as old as the Yakuza and four times as old as the Mafia, dating back over 800 years to the White Lotus Society of the 13th century. The name "triad" comes from the interpretation by the British of the symbols of the Hung Sun, a secret society opposed to the Manchu rulers during the 17th century China. The triangle symbol represents the relationship between Heaven, Earth, and Man.

The Hong Kong triad is distinct from mainland Chinese criminal organizations. It established branches in Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chinese communities overseas. Known as "mainland Chinese criminal organizations", they are of two major types: dark forces (loosely-organized groups) and black societies (more-mature criminal organizations). Two features which distinguish a black society from a dark force are the ability to achieve illegal control over local markets, and receiving police protection. The Hong Kong triad refers to traditional criminal organizations operating in (or originating from) Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and south-east Asian countries and regions, while organized-crime groups in mainland China are known as "mainland Chinese criminal groups".

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Known Triads

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