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Country Facts


Map of China



China is the world's third-largest country (after Russia and Canada), slightly larger than the United States.

Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea, Vietnam
Area: slightly larger than the US Total area: 9,596,960 sq km Land area: 9,326,410 sq km
Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)



China is and may always have been the world's most populous nation. Its population may have been in excess of 40 million during the time of Christ. The current Chinese population is over 1 billion.

Population: 1,203,097,268 (July 1995 est.)

  • 0-14 years: 26% (female 151,266,866; male 167,234,782)
  • 15-64 years: 67% (female 391,917,572; male 419,103,994)
  • 65 years and over: 7% (female 39,591,692; male 33,982,362)
  • (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.04% (1995 est.)


While the majority of Chinese people is of Han ethnic origin, there are 55 other major ethnic groups intermingled in various locales. Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%


Daoism (Taoism) has the longest history. Buddhism came to China from India during the first century A.D. Most of the exsisting temples are Buddhist. Islam came later with about 2%-3% Muslim. Christianity is the latest at1% (est.) China is officially atheist. Lao Tzu (c.604 -531 B.C. ) is considered to be the founding father of Chinese philosophy. Confucius (551-470 B.C.) is most often honored as the "Great Teacher" in China. His moral teaching became the standard for personal behavior, official conduct and the norm for relationships. It is a way of living, rather than a religion. He persuaded people to cultivate their minds, seek harmony within the family, show loyalty towards the nation and moral authority, and be at peace with the world.


Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic divisions entry)

Chinese History:

The second longest among all known civilizations, spans over 50 centuries, with a written record of 4693 years. First discovered on oracle bones, Chinese written characters incorporate meaning and sound as well as visual image into a coherent whole, and is the only major writing system in the world that continued its pictograph-based development without interruption, and is still in general use.


  • age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
  • Total population: 78% (male: 87% female: 68%)


Since the beginning, the government has periodically scheduled examinations, first based on the classics and now including up-to-date scientific subjects, to select civil officials. Examinations have been open to everyone. Today, compulsory education ends with the 6th grade. This can be followed by three-year middle school and either three-year high school or trade school.Hours are 8-5, monday-Friday, 8-noon on Saturdays.




  • The People's Republic of China
  • conventional short form: China
  • local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo local short form: Zhong Guo

Capital: Beijing


221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)

National holiday: National Day, 1 October (1949)



National product:

GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.9788 trillion (1994 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank estimate for 1992 by use of official Chinese growth statistics for 1993-94; because of the difficulties with official statistics in this time of rapid change, the result may overstate China's GDP by as much as 25%)

Exports: $121 billion (f.o.b., 1994)

textiles, garments, footwear, toys, machinery and equipment, weapon systems

Imports: $115.7 billion (c.i.f., 1994)

rolled steel, motor vehicles, textile machinery, oil products, aircraft

Industrial production: growth rate 17.5% (1994 est.)


iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, consumer durables, food processing, autos, consumer electronics, telecommunications


accounts for almost 30% of GDP; among the world's largest producers of rice, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, and pork; commercial crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds; produces variety of livestock products; basically self-sufficient in food; fish catch of 13.35 million metric tons (including fresh water and pond raised) (1991)

Currency: 1 yuan (Y) = 10 jiao

Exchange rates:

yuan (Y) per US$1 - 8.4413 (January 1995), 8.6187 (1994), 5.7620 (1993), 5.5146 (1992), 5.3234 (1991), 4.7832 (1990) note: beginning 1 January 1994, the People's Bank of China quotes the midpoint rate against the US dollar based on the previous day's prevailing rate in the interbank foreign exchange market

North Korea
South Korea

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