Located in Southeast Asia along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, China is the world’s third largest country, after Russia and Canada. With an area of 9.6 million square km and a coastline of 18,000 km, it is shaped like a rooster. It spans about 50 degrees of latitude and 62 degrees of longitude and is bordered by 14 countries with an additional five marine-side neighbours. Such a vast country spans many geographical areas including plateaux, plains, basins, foothills, and mountains. The rugged plateaux, foothills and mountains together occupy nearly two-thirds of the land, higher in the West and lower in the East like a three-step ladder.
Politics & Security
One of China’s greatest treasures is her long, rich history. The first dynasty, Xia, dates to about the 21st century BC. For 4,000 years, feudalism was the dominant economic and cultural model. This ended in 1911 with the revolution led by Sun Yat-sen. On October 1st, 1949, the PRC was founded. Since then, it has developed independently and vigorously. Whilst often remembered overseas for the Cultural Revolution, this ended in 1976 and more recently, reform and an opening-up policy has energized and enriched the country. For a country this size, the security, especially for foreigners, is extremely good and, whilst normal precautions should be taken, incidents against foreigners are not common.
Economy & Tourism
Whilst Chinese outbound tourists have attracted the world’s attention (in 2014 there were 114 million overseas trips), inbound tourism is still relatively undeveloped. In the first half of 2015, 12.3636 million foreigners visited China, of which only 9.6979 million stayed at least one night. About 1/3 of these were tourists. Nearly 2/3 were from Asia, the largest proportion coming from Korea. In a country with a GDP of over $10.3 trillion in 2014 – over 70% the size of the Eurozone – and a population over 1.3 billion, the tourism sector is small, representing less than 0.5% of the economy, which is dominated by mining, manufacturing, construction and power.
The official spoken standard in the PRC is Putonghua. Its pronunciation is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. Over 90% of the population is Han Chinese, the remainder from minority groups. Over 70% of the Han are native speakers of the Mandarin group of dialects spoken in the North and Southwestern. The rest, concentrated in South and Southeast China, speak one of the six other major Chinese dialects. In addition to their own local dialect, nearly all Chinese also speak Standard Mandarin (Putonghua), which is the language of instruction in all schools and is used for formal and official purposes. Non-Chinese languages are spoken widely by ethnic minorities. For written Chinese, the PRC officially uses simplified Chinese characters in mainland China, while traditional Chinese characters are used in Hong Kong and Macau.
China has been a multi-religion country since ancient times. Confucianism is an indigenous religion and is the soul of Chinese culture, which enjoyed popular support among people and even became the guiding ideology for feudal society, but it did not develop into a national belief. Many other religions have been brought into the country in different dynasties. While Buddhism has the widest influence, other major religions are Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity.