Lim is a Hokkien transcription of a Chinese surname, Lin, or 林 (pinyin Lín). The literal meaning of this surname is "forest" or "woods".
Among the overseas Chinese, the surname Lim (also transcribed as Lam, Lum, Lim or Liem) may be more common than in China because many overseas Chinese have origins in Fujian. This is due to the migrating Fujian Chinese seeking their fortunes particularly in Southeast Asia.
In Hong Kong and Vietnam, the name most often takes the form "Lam".
In Taiwan, Lin is the second most common surname, with a population of 9% Taiwanese (2.1 million, 2005 estimate), behind only Chen.
In mainland China (except south-eastern coastal regions of Fujian), Lin is less common.
Lim is also the spelling and pronunciation for those from Taishan, Guangdong, China. Lim's from Taishan are heavily concentrated in the Shuibu area, just north of the main city of Taicheng. The Taishanese Lim benevolent societies are very active in San Francisco and Oakland, California, USA.