About China


History    Languages   Official Holidays
Climate       Rivers   Topography 
Capital  Administrative Divisions Population
Nationalities Religions   Television System
Phone Number   Money Civil Electrical Power
Road Drive Side Chinese Dishes Family Names 




China, one of the four oldest civilizations in the world, has a written history of 4,000 years and boasts rich cultural relics and historical sites. It is the inventor of compass, paper, gunpowder and printing. The Great Wall, the Grand Canal and the Karez irrigation systems are three great ancient engineering projects built 2,000 years ago. Now they are the symbols of the rich culture heritage of the Chinese nation. China has gone over a long history of primitive society, slavery society, feudal society and semi-feudal semi-colonial society and the present socialist society.




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



Official Holidays:

New Year's Day: January 1;

The Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year's Day - between January and February: The exact date varies, depending on the Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year's Day in 2003 was on February 01. The year 2003 is the Year of Goat in Chinese calendar.

Labor Day: May 1.
National Day: October 1.
The working days are Monday through Friday. Official hours are from 8:00am to 17:00pm with one hour for lunch.



China lies mainly in the northern temperate zone under the influence of monsoon. From September and October to March and April next year monsoon blows from Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau into China and decreases in force as it goes southward, causing dry and cold winter in the country and a temperature difference of 40 degrees centigrade between the north and the south. The temperature in China in the winter is 5 to 18 degrees centigrade lower than that in other countries on the same latitude in winter. Monsoon blows into China from the ocean in summer, bringing with them warm and wet currents, thus rain. Great differences in climate are found from region to region owing to China's extensive territory and complex topography. The northern part of Heilongjiang Province in the northeast has no summer, while Hainan Island in the south has a long summer but no winter. The Huaihe River valley features four distinct seasons, and the western part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is covered by snow all year round. The southern part of the Yunan-Guizhou Plateau is spring-like in all seasons; and the northwestern inland regions could see great variations of temperature within the day. Annual precipitation also varies greatly from region to region, which is as high as 1,500 millimeters along the southeastern coast, and as low as 50 millimeters in the northwest.


Press here for the temperatures for main cities in China.




China has 50,000 rivers that cover a catchments area of at least 100 square kilometers, and 1,500 of them cover a catchments area of more than 1,000 square kilometers. Most of the rivers flow from west to east to empty into the Pacific Ocean. The main rivers include the Yangzi (Changjiang), the Yellow River (Huanghe), Heilongjiang, the Pearl River, Liaohe, Haihe, Qiantangjiang and Lancang Rivers. At 6,300 kilometers long, the Yangzi is the longest river in China. The second longest is the Yellow River at 5,464 kilometers. The Grand Canal from Hangzhou to Beijing is a great water project in ancient China. 1,794 kilometers in length, it is the longest canal in the world.




With a broad area, China has a very complex topography. The outline descends step by step from the west to the east. Mountains and hilly land take up 65 percent of the total area. There are five main mountain ranges. Seven mountain peaks are higher than 8,000 meters above sea level. The Bohai Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and South China Sea embrace the east and southeast coast.




Beijing (Area: 16,800 square kilometers; Population: 12.59 million).



Administrative Divisions:

China has 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities and 2 Special Administrative Regions (Hong Kong and Macao).




1.2591 billion (1999), about 22% of total population in the world.

In 1998, there were 19.91 million new births and 8.07 million deaths, with a net growth of 11.84 million (compared with 12.37 million in 1997). More than 10% of the total population is over 60 years old (1999 data).

The Chinese population is unevenly distributed, with the eastern part heavily populated (more than 300 persons per square kilometer) and the west scarcely populated (about 40 persons per square kilometer). The national average density of population is 119 per square kilometer (1990 census). The average size of household is 3.7 persons. The proportion of population aged at 0-14 was 26.4 percent, 67.3% between the ages 15-64, and 6.4% for the age group of over 65. The average life span of the Chinese population is 70.8 years, with the male at 68.71, and female at 73.04. (Some of the above data are based on the report from China National Statistics Bureau, FOR YOUR REFERENCE ONLY).




China is made up of 56 ethnic groups. The Han people make up 91.02 percent of the total population, and the other 55 national minorities 8.98 percent. They are Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyi, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, Wa, She, Gaoshan, Lahu, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Jingpo, Kirgiz, Tu, Daur, Mulam, Qiang, Blang, Salar, Maonan, Gelo, Xibe, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu, Ozbek, Russian, Ewenki, Benglong, Bonan, Yugur, Jing, Tatar, Drung, Oroqen, Hezhen, Moinba, Lhoba and Gelo. All nationalities enjoy equal status according to the Constitution. The State protects their lawful rights and interests and promotes equality, unity and mutual help among all nationalities.       




China is a multi-religious country. Buddhism, Taoism and Islam are the three major religions. Catholicism and Protestantism have smaller but substantial followers too. Different ethnic groups usually follow different religions. Islam is followed by the Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tatar, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan peoples; Buddhism and Lamaism are followed by the Tibetan, Mongolian, Dai and Yugur nationalities; Christianity is followed by the Miao, Yao and Yi nationalities; Shamanism is followed by the Oroqen, Ewenki and Daur nationalities; and the majority Han nationality believes in Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.       



Television System:

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


Frequent used Phone numbers Code:

Police 110;

Fire 119;

Emergency 120.




Chinese Money is called Renminbi (RMB) (means "People's Currency"). The popular unit of RMB is Yuan. The official exchange rate between U.S. Dollar and RMB Yuan currently is about 1: 8.3 (1.00 Dollar = 8.30 Yuan). 1 Yuan equals 10 Jiao, and 1 Jiao equals 10 Fen. (There are parts of China the Yuan is also known as Kuai, and Jiao is known as Mao.) Chinese currency is issued in the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, fifty and a hundred Yuan; one, two and five Jiao; and one, two and five Fen.       



Civil Electrical Power:

AC 220 V, 50 Hz (bathrooms of many luxury and medium-grade hotels may have 110-volt sockets).



Road Drive Side:

Mainland China: on the right.

Hong Kong: on the left.
Taiwan: on the right.



Chinese Dishes:

China is an ancient country. Chinese culinary arts have a long history. They are famous all over the world. Chinese dishes appeal to the senses through color, shape, aroma and taste. For local styles, Beijing cuisine combines the best features of different regional styles. Shangdong cuisine leads the Northern dishes



Family Names:

Chinese family names came into being some 5,000 years ago. There are more than 5,000 family names, of which 200 to 300 are popular. In Chinese names, family names comes first and given name second. For example, in the case of Deng Xiaoping, Deng is the family name, Xiaoping the given name. The most popular Chinese family names are ZHANG, WANG, LI, ZHAO, LIU, CHEN...    


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