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People's Republic of China
  • 中华人民共和国
  • Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
National Emblem
Area controlled by the People's Republic of China shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Area controlled by the People's Republic of China shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Capital Beijing[a]
39°55′N 116°23′E / 39.917°N 116.383°E / 39.917; 116.383Coordinates: 39°55′N 116°23′E / 39.917°N 116.383°E / 39.917; 116.383
Largest city Shanghai[1]
31°13′43″N 121°28′29″E / 31.22861°N 121.47472°E / 31.22861; 121.47472
Official languages Standard Chinese[2][b]
Recognised regional languages
Official written language Vernacular Chinese
Official script Simplified Chinese[2]
Ethnic groups
Demonym Chinese
Government Socialist, Single-party state[4]
Xi Jinping[d]
• Premier
Li Keqiang
Zhang Dejiang
Yu Zhengsheng
• First-ranked Secretary of the Secretariat
Liu Yunshan
Wang Qishan
• First Vice Premier
Zhang Gaoli
Legislature National People's Congress
• First Unification of China under the Qin Dynasty
221 BCE
1 January 1912
21 September 1949[6][7][8]
• Total
9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi)[e] (3rd/4th)
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
1,376,049,000[12] (1st)
• 2010 census
1,339,724,852[13] (1st)
• Density
145[14]/km2 (375.5/sq mi) (83rd)
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
• Total
$18.976 trillion[15] (1st)
• Per capita
$13,801[15] (87th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
• Total
$11.212 trillion[15] (2nd)
• Per capita
$8,154[15] (75th)
Gini (2012) 55.0[16][17]
HDI (2013) Increase 0.719[18]
high · 91st
Currency Renminbi (yuan)(¥)[g] (CNY)
Time zone China Standard Time (UTC+8)
Date format
  • yyyy-mm-dd
  • or yyyymd
  • (CE; CE-1949)
Drives on the right[h]
Calling code +86
ISO 3166 code CN
Internet TLD

China (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國; Pinyin: Zhōngguó) is a cultural region, an ancient civilization, and a nation in East Asia.

The last Chinese Civil War (1927-1949) resulted in two different political powers today, even though both governments agree they are one nation:

The land controlled by either the PRC or the ROC is altogether known as Greater China.

China has one of the world's oldest civilizations and has the oldest continuous civilization.[19] It has archaeological evidence over 5,000 years old.[20] It also has one of the world's oldest writing systems (and the oldest in use today), and is viewed as the source of many major inventions.[20]

Origins[change | change source]

The first recorded use of the word "China" is dated 1555.[nb 1][21] It is derived from chīnī, a Persian adjective meaning 'Chinese' which was popularized in Europe by Marco Polo.[21][22]

History[change | change source]

Ancient (2100 B.C. - 1500 A.D.)[change | change source]

Ancient China was one of the first civilizations and was active since the 2nd millennium BC as a feudal society. Chinese civilization was also one of the few to invent writing,[20] with the others being Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley civilization, the Maya civilization, the Minoan civilization of ancient Greece, and Ancient Egypt.[23] It reached its golden age during the Tang Dynasty (c. A.D. 10th century). Home of Confucianism and Daoism, it had great influence on nearby countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in the areas of political system, philosophy, religion, art, writing and literature. China is home to some of the oldest artwork in the world. Statues and pottery, as well as decorations made of jade, are some classic examples.

Before the Qin Dynasty united China, there were hundreds of small states that fought each other for hundreds of years in a war to control China. This is known as the Warring States Period. Although the continuing wars made people suffer, it was at this time when many great philosophies were born, including Confucianism and Daoism. Confucianism and Daoism alone have been the foundation of many social values seen in modern eastern-Asian cultures today.

Its geography mostly looked like that of modern China, except with northern and western edges that varied. It was often attacked by northern nomadic people such as the Turkic peoples and the Mongols led by Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. During the history of ancient China, the northern nomadic people and the Chinese people had been fighting each other and taking turns to rule the land and the people of China. However, when the northern people beat the Chinese people and came to rule the kingdom, they also Incorporated the Chinese way of living and became like the Chinese. Many of the strongest dynasties of China were ruled by the northern people, including the Qin, Tang, Yuan (Mongolian), and Qing. Each time, they also brought new elements into the Chinese culture.

A new age[change | change source]

The city of Jinan

While China achieved many things in the First millennium and early 2nd millennium, it became an isolationist country in the 15th century C.E. This was because Spain found enormous silver in the new continent, which was the main currency (money) in China and Europe at the time, and China did not want to be bought by the foreigners.

By the time of the Renaissance, European powers started to take over other countries in Asia. While China was never actually taken over, many European countries, such as Britain and France built spheres of influence in China. Since China had cut itself off from the world over the previous few centuries, by the Qing Dynasty, it had fallen behind other countries in technology, and was helpless to stop this from happening. This had become clear when it lost the Opium Wars to Britain in the 19th century.

In 1911, the Republic of China was founded by Sun Yat-sen, but its government was very weak. Warlords controlled many areas. Chiang Kai-shek led wars against them, and he became President and dictator.

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, a place in the northeastern part of China. On 7 July 1937, the Japanese attacked the rest of the country, starting what was called the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war later became part of World War II. The war was fought for eight years and millions of Chinese people were killed.

However, the Chinese Civil War later started between the Kuomintang (Nationalists) of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Communists of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Communists wanted to make China like the Soviet Union, whereas the other side wanted to keep China in its current state at the time. The Communists were led by Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and others. Later Liu lost influence with Mao and his death to this day remains unresolved. The Communists eventually won the war. The Nationalists (led by Chiang Kai-shek) fled to the island of Taiwan and set up their new capital city in Taipei. After the Chinese Civil War, the Communist leader Mao Zedong declared a new country, the People's Republic of China (PRC), in Beijing on 21 September 1949.[6][7][8] This was followed by a large celebration in Tiananmen Square on October 1, which became the new country's first National Day.

Under Mao the country stayed poor while Taiwan became richer. His attempt at industrialization and collectivization with the Great Leap Forward led to the deaths of many people from famine. The Cultural Revolution caused great social upheaval. After 1976, China underwent market economy reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and experienced rapid economic growth. China is now one of the largest economies in the world, relying mainly on exports.

In recent history, China has had problems with protests, blocking of information on the Internet, and censorship of news. 1989 was notable for the controversial Tian An Men Massacre.

Culture[change | change source]

China is the origin of Eastern martial arts, called Kung Fu or its first name Wushu. China is also the home of the well-respected Spa Monastery and Wudang Mountains. Martial art started more for the purpose of survival, defense, and warfare than art. Over time some art forms have branched off, while others have retained their distinct Chinese flavor.

China has had renowned artists including Wong Fei Hung (Huang Fei Hung or Hwang Fei Hung) and many others. Art has also co-existed with a variety of paints including the more standard 18 colors. Legendary and controversial moves like Big Mak are also praised and talked about within the culture.

China has many traditional festivals, such as Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Festival and so on. The most significant is Chinese New Year. People in China will have holidays to celebrate these festivals.

Festivals[change | change source]

Dragon boat race in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Spring Festival is the Chinese New Year.

Ching Ming Festival is a day to remember ancestors. It is called Tomb-Sweeping Day in English. The day includes cleaning and sweeping graves, offering food to the deceased, and burning joss paper.

Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States period. He persuaded his emperor not to accept Qin's diplomats' offers several times but his emperor did not listen to him. Qu Yuan was sad and jumped into the river to end his life. The people loved him so much that they did not want the fish to eat his corpse. They made and threw rice dumplings into the river. They hope the fish eat these dumplings instead of the poet's corpse. They also rowed dragon boats in the river to get rid of the fish. Such practices, eating rice dumplings and holding dragon boat races, become what Chinese do in this festival nowadays.

Held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, Mid-Autumn Festival is a festival for families. During the festival people sit together to eat mooncakes, appreciate the bright full moon, celebrate the bumper harvest and enjoy the family love and happiness. To the Chinese people, the full moon symbolizes family reunion, as does the "moon cake". Hence the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Family Reunion Festival.

National symbols[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Eden, Richard. Decades of the New World (1555) 'The great China whose kyng is thought the greatest prince in the world.'

Footnotes[change | change source]

  1. Or (previously) "Peking".
  2. Portuguese (Macau only), English (Hong Kong only).
  3. Ethnic minorities that are recognized officially.
  4. Xi Jinping holds four concurrent positions: General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (de facto paramount leader), President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state), and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (Commander-in-chief) for both state and party.[5]
  5. The area given is the official United Nations figure for the mainland and excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.[9] It also excludes the Trans-Karakoram Tract (5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi)), Aksai Chin (37,244 km2 (14,380 sq mi)) and other territories in dispute with India. The total area of China is listed as 9,572,900 km2 (3,696,100 sq mi) by the Encyclopædia Britannica.[10] For further information, see Territorial changes of the People's Republic of China.
  6. This figure was calculated using data from the CIA World Factbook.[11]
  7. The Hong Kong Dollar is used in Hong Kong and the Macanese pataca is used in Macau.
  8. Except Hong Kong and Macau.

References[change | change source]

  1. Chan, Kam Wing (2007). "Misconceptions and Complexities in the Study of China's Cities: Definitions, Statistics, and Implications" (PDF). Eurasian Geography and Economics 48 (4): 383–412. doi:10.2747/1538-7216.48.4.383. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2011.  p. 395
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language (Order of the President No.37)". Chinese Government. 31 October 2000. Retrieved 21 June 2013. For purposes of this Law, the standard spoken and written Chinese language means Putonghua (a common speech with pronunciation based on the Beijing dialect) and the standardized Chinese characters. 
  3. "Tabulation of the 2010 Census of the People's Republic of China". China Statistics Press. 
  4. "Constitution of the People's Republic of China". The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  5. ""New man at helm: Xi Jinping elected to lead China"". Archived from the original on 20121116.  Check date values in: |archive-date= (help). 15 November 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Chinese people have stood up". UCLA Center for East Asian Studies. Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2006. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Peaslee, Amos J. (2013). Constitutions of Nations: Volume I: Afghanistan to Finland. Springer. p. 533. ISBN 9789401771252. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Chaurasia, R.S. (2004). History of Modern China. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 1. ISBN 978-81-269-0315-3. 
  9. "Demographic Yearbook—Table 3: Population by sex, rate of population increase, surface area and density" (PDF). UN Statistics. 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  10. "China". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  11. "CIA – The World Factbook". Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  12. "United Nations world population prospects"(PDF) 2015 revision
  13. "Communiqué of the National Bureau of Statistics of People's Republic of China on Major Figures of the 2010 Population Census (No. 1)". National Bureau of Statistics of China. 28 April 2011. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  14. "Population density (people per sq. km of land area)". IMF. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects: China". World Economic Outlook. International Monetary Fund. April 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  16. "Income inequality in today's China". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 
  17. "Rich-poor gap widens: study". Global Times. 
  18. "2014 Human Development Report Summary" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 2014. pp. 21–25. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  19. What Is a Culture?
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Haggett, Peter (2002). Encyclopedia of World Geography. Cavendish Square. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7614-7289-6. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "China", Online Etymology Dictionary
  22. Wood, Francis, Did Marco Polo go to China (1995), p. 61.
  23. Gernet, Jacques (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-521-49781-7. 

Other websites[change | change source]