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China in Brief

China in Brief


China is an enormous country, having a landscape size of of 9,600,000 sq km (which makes it roughly similar to the continental USA). China is in the east of Asia, on the western shores of the Pacific Ocean. It borders several countries: Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.


China has a wide-ranging geography, from mountains, high plateaus, and deserts in the west to plains, deltas, and hills in the east. The highest mountain in China is the highest mountain in the world: Mount Qomolangma (Mt Everest). It is 8,848 m or 29,035 feet tall.



China has one of the four oldest civilizations in the world. Its written history is over 5,000 years old and it has a rich backdrop of cultural relics and historical sites. China invented four foundations of the modern world: the compass, paper-making, the printing press and gunpowder. There are also many examples of grand engineering projects carried out up to 2,000 years ago; the Great Wall, the Grand Canal and the Karez irrigation system for example. China has passed through many different periods throughout its long history, including a feudal society, a semi-colonial society and the present-day socialist society.

Political Parties

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the country's sole political party in power. Hu Jintao became general secretary of the CPC at its 16th National Congress in November 2002. Founded in July 1921, the CPC today has more than 67 million members.

Administrative Divisions

China is made up of 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities directly under the Central Government, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.

The 23 provinces are: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang;

The five autonomous regions are: Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang and Tibet;

The four municipalities are: Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin.


China has 56 nationalities in total, meaning Chinese society and culture has a diverse mix of influences and heritage. The Han people make up around 91% of the total population, with the remaining minorities comprising roughly 9%. Most ethnic minorities live in the provinces of Yunan, Giuzhou and Guanxi, and in total are Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyei, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, Va, She, Gaoshan, Lahu, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Jingpo, Kirgiz, Tu, Daur, Mulam, Qiang, Blang, Salar, Maonan, Gelo, Xibe, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu and Ozbek.


There is a high number of religious worshippers estimated in China, at well over 100 million. Most of these follow Buddhism. Other major religions in China are Daoism, Islam and Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant).


The national language is Mandarin (Putonghua), which is one of the five working languages at the United Nations. Most of the 55 minorities have their own language. Cantonese is one of the local dialects of southern China. As a written language, Chinese has been used for 6,000 years.


Chinese money is called Renminbi (RMB), which means 'People's Currency'. The popular unit of RMB is Yuan. The official exchange rate between U.S. Dollar and Renminbi Yuan currently is about 1: 8.0 (1.00 Dollar = 8.00Yuan), and 1:1 for English pounds. The Yuan breaks down into 1 Yuan to 10 Jiao, 1 Jiao to 10 Fen. Chinese currency is issued in the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and a hundred Yuan; one, two and five Jiao; and one, two and five Fen.


China has a continental and a seasonal climate. Most areas are in a temperate zone but southern areas are in the tropical or subtropical zone and so are generally hotter, while northern areas are in a cold zone. The climate in certain areas varies quite strongly; for example, northern Heilongjiang province has a winter climate the year round without summer, while Hainan Island has a summer climate the year round without winter.

Weather (general guide)

Spring - 10-22 degrees C: suits, jackets, sports coats, woolen jackets, long sleeve shirts and travel shoes.
Summer - 22 degrees C and above: T-shirts, short sleeve shirts, skirts, sandals, caps, rain wear.
Autumn - 10-22 degrees C: suits, jackets, sports coats, light woolen sweaters, rain wear and travel shoes.
Winter - 10 degrees C or lower: overcoat, cotton clothes, lined coats. In very cold areas a cap, gloves and cotton-padded shoes are required.

Time Difference

The whole of China is set on Beijing standard time. China is 7 to 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Standard Time (EU time) depending on the time of year, 13 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time and 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.

Public Holidays

Public Holidays are usually a period of 3 days, but nowadays people work during the weekends before the holiday, so they can extend their holiday duration up to 7 days.

The four major public holidays are listed below:
New Year's Day - January 1
Chinese Lunar New Year's Day - Between January and February
Labor Day - May 1
National Day - October 1

Working Days & Times

Monday to Friday
Official Hours (8:00am to 17:00pm)
Business Hours (9:00 to 18:00pm)

Driving Side

Mainland China & Taiwan: on the right
Hong Kong: on the left

TV System

Chinese language TV broadcasts, English and Japanese TV programs are available in many hotels via satellite. China Central Television Station (CCTV) and some local TV stations also provide English news and other programs in English.

Telephone Codes

Mainland China 86 / Hong Kong 852 / Taiwan 886

Emergency Numbers

Police 110 / Fire 119 / Ambulance 120

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