China

Despite being one of the World’s largest and most heavily populated countries, China is a very friendly place to visit and has undergone significant cultural and social transformation in recent years. Renowned for its ancient civilisation, exquisite cuisine and some of the world’s most treasured landmarks, such as the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall, it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Culture

China is a land of huge cultural and geographical variety, reflecting the ancient Chinese philosophers’ belief in a balanced universe of opposing forces of yin and yang. Its landmarks have become more accessible to tourists in recent years. The most famous attractions include the Great Wall, the Silk Road, Mount Everest, the Yangzi River, the Terracotta Warriors, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. China combines the best of natural geographical beauty and exciting modernised living.

Geography and People

China is the third largest country in the world. It has 22 provinces and five autonomous regions. Along with some 5,000 islands, it is governed from Beijing. The President is Hu Jintao and the ruling party is The Communist Party of China. 93% of the population are Chinese, with 55 ethnic minorities making up the remaining 7%.

China is said to be the most populous nation, accommodating around a fifth of the world’s inhabitants. According to the World Factbook online, the population in July 2006 was 1,313,973,713.

Climate

China’s climate varies significantly between regions. The south is subtropical with wet, humid summers between April and September and temperatures reaching up to 40C. Winter falls between January and March. The south east is typically very wet with high temperatures all year round. The coast is humid and monsoons can hit between July and September. In central China there are four distinct seasons, with extremely hot summers and bitterly cold winters, and rain all year round.

History

China is one of the World’s oldest civilisations. It has the longest continuously used written language system. Some of the World’s greatest inventions originated in China, for example, paper, the compass, gunpowder and printing.

In the last 200 years China has become much more modern, undergoing enormous social and economic change. The Cultural Revolution had a massive impact.

Currency

The Chinese currency is the RenMinBi (RMB), pronounced Yuan in written form, but spoken as Kuai. Notes are available in RMB1, RMB5, RMB10, RMB50 and RMB100.

Language

The language of China is internally diverse and has between six and twelve main regional groups. Mandarin is the official language of the People’s Republic of China and is the most widely spoken. There are about 800 million speakers. This is followed by Wu, with about 90 million speakers, and Cantonese with about 80 million.

Religion

There are several prevalent religions and philosophies in China. These include Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity.