China Travel Information

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Beijing
Chengdu 
Guangzhou
Harbin 
Kunming
Shanghai
WWF China The World Wide Fund For Nature in China.
Conservation International in China

Facts About China

Background: For centuries China has stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. But in the first half of the 20th century, China was beset by major famines, civil unrest, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision making. Output quadrupled in the next 20 years and China now has the world's second largest GDP. Political controls remain tight even while economic controls continue to weaken.
Government type: Communist state
Capital: Beijing
Currency: 1 yuan = 10 jiao

Geography of China

Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 105 00 E
Area:
total: 9,596,960 sq km
land: 9,326,410 sq km
water: 270,550 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 22,143.34 km
border countries: Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 km, Mongolia 4,673 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km
Coastline: 14,500 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (1999 est.)
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)
Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 43%
forests and woodland: 14%
other: 33% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 498,720 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts
Environment - current issues: air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal, produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:  Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: world's fourth-largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US); Mount Everest on the border with Nepal, is the world's tallest peak.

More Geography

People of China

Ethnic Groups
The largest ethnic group is the Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.9% of the total population. The remaining 8.1% are Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10 million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uygur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Mongolian (5 million), Tibetan (5 million), Buyi (3 million), Korean (2 million), and other ethnic minorities.

Language
There are seven major Chinese dialects and many sub dialects. Mandarin (or Putonghua), the predominant dialect, is spoken by over 70% of the population. It is taught in all schools and is the medium of government. About two-thirds of the Han ethnic group are native speakers of Mandarin; the rest, concentrated in southwest and southeast China, speak one of the six other major Chinese dialects. Non-Chinese languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur and other Turkic languages (in Xinjiang), and Korean (in the northeast).

Religion
Religion plays a significant part in the life of many Chinese. Buddhism is most widely practiced, with an estimated 100 million adherents. Traditional Taoism also is practiced. Official figures indicate there are 18 million Muslims, 4 million Catholics, and 10 million Protestants; unofficial estimates are much higher.

While the Chinese constitution affirms religious toleration, the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. Only two Christian organizations--a Catholic church without official ties to Rome and the "Three-Self-Patriotic" Protestant church--are sanctioned by the Chinese Government. Unauthorized churches have sprung up in many parts of the country and unofficial religious practice is flourishing. In some regions authorities have tried to control activities of these unregistered churches. In other regions, registered and unregistered groups are treated similarly by authorities and congregations worship in both types of churches. Most Chinese Catholic bishops are recognized by the Pope, and official priests have Vatican approval to administer all the sacraments.

Population Policy
With a population officially just under 1.3 billion and an estimated growth rate of about 1%, China is very concerned about its population growth and has attempted with mixed results to implement a strict family planning policy. The government's goal is one child per urban family, and two children per rural family, with guidelines looser for ethnic minorities with small populations. Enforcement varies widely, and relies upon "social compensation fees" for extra children as a means of keeping families small. Official government policy opposes forced abortion or sterilization, but occasional allegations of coercion persist in localities that take their population growth targets most seriously. Recent international efforts, including those funded by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), are demonstrating to government officials that a voluntary, non-coercive approach to family planning can be effective in promoting sustainable population growth. The government's goal is to stabilize the population in the first half of the 21st century, and current projections are that the population will peak at around 1.6 billion by 2050.

Population: 1,306,313,812 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  25.01% 
15-64 years:  67.88%
65 years and over:  7.11%
Population growth rate: 0.88% 
Birth rate: 15.95 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 6.74 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -0.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 28.08 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  71.62 years
male:  69.81 years
female:  73.59 years
Total fertility rate: 1.82 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%.
Religions: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Muslim 2%-3%, Christian 1% (est.)
note: officially atheist
Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.5%
male: 89.9%
female: 72.7% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > China Map Economy History