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