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Home >> China Travel Guide >> A Brief Introduction of China
 
 

A Brief Introduction of China

China is located in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific to the east. The third largest country in the world after Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, occupying one-fifteenth of the world's landmass. It begins at the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli Rivers (135 degrees and 5 minutes east longitude) in the east and extends to the Pamirs west of Wuqia County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (73 degrees and 40 minutes east longitude) in the west, a distance of about 5,200 kilometers.

From the north, it stretches from the midstream of the Heilong River north of Mohe (53 degrees and 31 minutes north latitude) to the southernmost island of Zengmu'ansha in the South China Sea (4 degrees and 15 minutes north latitude), with about 5,500 kilometers in between.

The Chinese border stretches over 22,000 kilometers on land and its coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometers, washed by the waters of the Bohai, the Huanghai, the East China and the South China Seas. The Bohai Sea is China's only inland sea.

There are 6,536 islands larger than 500 square meters, the largest being Taiwan, with a total area of about 36,000 square kilometers, and the second, Hainan. The South China Sea Islands are China's southernmost island group.

At present, China was divided into 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government, and 2 special administrative region (Hong Kong and Macau).
Climate

China is characterized by a continental climate. The latitudes span nearly 50 degrees, its southern part is in the tropical and subtropical zones, and its northern part near the frigid zones. The northern part of Heilongjiang province has long winters but no summers; while Hainan Island has long summers but no winters. The Huaihe River valley is marked by distinctive seasonal changes, but it is spring all year round in the south of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. China's high tundra zone is situated in Qinghai-Tibet, where the temperature is low in all four seasons.

Geography
China's land drops off in the escarpments eastward to the ocean, letting in humid air currents and leading many rivers eastward. Among the rivers totalling 220,000 kilometres in length in China; the Yangtze and the Yellow are the two major ones.

China has a diversity of land formations including mountains, hills, highlands, plains and basins. The highlands and hill regions account for 65 percent of the country's land mass. The highest mountain peak is Qomolangma (Everest), 8,848 metres above sea level; the lowest point is the Turpan Basin, 154 metres below sea level.

History
China, with a recorded history of 5,000 years, was one of the world's earliest civilizations. China was one of the countries where economic activity first developed. As early as 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, people in the Yellow River valley had already started farming and raising livestock. In the 21st century B.C., China established a slave society with the founding of the Xia Dynasty, thereby writing a finale to long years of primitive society.

In 221 B.C., Qin Shihuang established China's first centralized autocracy, the Qin Dynasty, thereby ushering Chinese history into feudalism, which endured in a succession of dynasties until the Opium War of 1840.

The Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yat-sen toppled the rule of the Qing Dynasty, putting an end to more than 2,000 years of feudal monarchical system.

The People's Republic of China was founded on October 1st, 1949. Today, China is implementing reform and open polices, and has established a socialist market economy.

Ethnic Groups
China is a multi-racial country with 56 ethnic groups. In the long course of its development, all the nationalities have joined in the effort to create the great culture that China represents.

Apart from the Han nationality, the other 55 ethnic groups, with a total of more than 96.5 million people, constitute roughly 8.04% of the total population. Those with more than one million people are: Zhuang, Hui, Uyghur, Yi, Miao, Manchu, Tibetan, Mongolian, Tujia, Bouyei, Korean, Dong, Yao, Bai and Hani.

The constitution guarantees all non-Han groups certain national rights and privileges, such as the exemption from the one-child-policy, lower academic requirements for entering colleges and universities, tax breaks and government subsidies.

Language
Mandarin is commonly used in the modern China. It is one of the five working languages designated by the United Nations. The majority of the 55 other ethnic groups have their own languages. There are also many dialects around the country. As a written language, Chinese has been used for 6,000 years.

Religion
China is a multi-religious country, where Taoism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity are practised. Freedom of belief is a government policy, and normal religious activities are protected by the constitution.

Family Names
Chinese family names came into being some 5,000 years ago. There are more than 5,000 family names in China, of which 200 or 300 are popular. The order of Chinese names is family name first. For example, the family name of a person called Li Ming is Li.

Administration Unit
China is divided into 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Government, and two special administrative regions. The Capital of the People's Republic of China is Beijing.

The 23 provinces are Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Fujian, Taiwan, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and Hainan.

The five autonomous regions are Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Guangxi and Tibet. The four municipalities are Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing. Hong Kong and Macao are special administrative regions.

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A Brief Intro. of China
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