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CHINA IN BRIEF

Great Wall

China in Brief

China, a land of beauty and fascination, tempts adventurous travelers all over the world. As one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies, yet is also home to some of the world’s greatest cultural advancements and most impressive historical sites. China is one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, consisting of states and cultures that date back more than six thousand years. Today China covers a vast amount of land and is a nation of 1.3 billion people, making it the most populated country in the world.

China has also been the source of some of the world’s greatest innovations, including the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China: paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing. In addition, the written Chinese language system is the oldest written language system in the world.

China has such an infinite variety of people, enchanting natural landscape, brilliant history, a culture that is among the most ancient in the world and fascinating destinations that a visitor can be almost as bewildered as he is bewitched.

Names of China


English and many other languages use various forms of the name “China” and the prefix “Sino-” or “Sin-”.  These forms are thought to originate from the name of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.) which first unified the country. The pronunciation of “Qin” is similar to “Chin”, which is considered the possible root of the word “China”.  Present-day Chinese call their country Zhongguo which means “Middle Kingdom” or “Central Kingdom”.

Geography


Located in East Asia, on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers, and is the third-largest country in the world, second only to Russia and Canada.  China has coasts on the East China Sea, the Korea Bay, the Yellow Sea, and the South China Sea.  It borders Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam to the South; Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the West, Russia and Mongolia to the North, and North Korea to the East.

Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, is the cultural and communications center of the country.  Shanghai, near the East China Sea, is the most populated metropolis and the largest industrial and commercial city in China.

Population 


More than one-fifth of the world’s population lives in China. The Han Chinese represent 90% of the population, but China also recognizes 55 ethnic minorities, including the Tibetans, Mongolians, and many other smaller ethnic groups.  The official language is Mandarin Chinese, which uses characters to represent words rather than pronunciation, making it possible for all dialects in China to be written in the same way.

History 


Ancient China was one of the earliest centers of cultural and intellectual advancement, and for many centuries, from the 7th through the 14th century, China had the world’s most advanced civilization, and even invented their own language writing system.  Other neighboring people, such as the Koreans and Vietnamese, were influenced by China and adopted some of the features of Chinese art, cuisine, philosophy, government, technology, and even some aspects of the written language.  Inventions such as paper, printing, gunpowder, porcelain, silk, and the compass originated in China and have contributed greatly to the development of the world.

Economic development


After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party, the government began to focus on agriculture and industry and placed them under state control.  Beginning in the late 1970s, however, the government implemented economic reforms that reversed some of the earlier policies and encouraged foreign investment.  Although China is still a developing country by world standards, in accordance with Deng Xiaoping’s theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese economy has grown dramatically as a result of the 1980s and 1990s reforms.

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