China Facts and Information: Flag, Population & History

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China boasts a fascinating contrast between traditional and modern. Explore our interesting China facts to discover its rich history, treasures, and culture.

What time is it in China?

What is China?

China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC, 中华人民共和国, Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó), is the world’s most populous country with a population of around 1.411 billion. Governed by the Communist Party of China (CPC, 中国共产党 Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng), it exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Where is China?

The territory of the People’s Republic of China lies between latitudes 18° and 54° N, and longitudes 73° and 135° E. China is the second-largest country in the world by land area after Russia. China’s total area is generally stated as being approximately 9,600,000 km2 (3,700,000 sq mi). China has the longest combined land border in the world, measuring 22,117 km (13,743 mi).

People’s Republic of China’s landscapes varies significantly across its vast width.

Map of China

Flag of China

The flag of the China (中华人民共和国国旗, Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó guóqí) is a red field charged in the canton with five golden stars. The red represents the communist revolution; the great yellow star symbolizes the CPC, and the four small stars symbolize the four social classes, representing the unity of the Chinese people.

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The Flag of China was designed by Zeng Liansong

China Provinces, Municipalities, Autonomous Regions, and Special administrative regions

Government of China

The state is governed by its vanguard party based in the capital of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau), and claims sovereignty over Taiwan.

Enameled metal sign with portrait of Mao Zedong in black and white including one sentence: Always loyal to Chairman Mao, 永远 忠于 毛主席 in yellow on red background.

After World War II, the communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system.

After 1978, MAO’s successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.

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Provinces (省)

Anhui (安徽省)
Fujian (福建省)
Gansu (甘肃省)
Guangdong (广东省)
Guizhou (贵州省)
Hainan (海南省)
Hebei (河北省)
Heilongjiang (黑龙江省)
Henan (河南省)
Hubei (湖北省)
Hunan (湖南省)
Jiangsu (江苏省)
Jiangxi (江西省)
Jilin (吉林省)
Liaoning (辽宁省)
Qinghai (青海省)
Shaanxi (陕西省)
Shandong (山东省)
Shanxi (山西省)
Sichuan (四川省)
Yunnan (云南省)
Zhejiang (浙江省)

Claimed provinces

Taiwan (台湾省) governed by ROC

Autonomous regions (自治区)

Guangxi (广西壮族自治区)
Inner Mongolia / Nei Mongol (内蒙古自治区)
Ningxia (宁夏回族自治区)
Xinjiang (新疆维吾尔自治区)
Tibet / Xizang (西藏自治区)

Municipalities (直辖市)

Beijing (北京市)
Chongqing (重庆市)
Shanghai (上海市)
Tianjin (天津市)

Special administrative regions (特别行政区)

Hong Kong / Xianggang (香港特别行政区)
Macau / Aomen (澳门特别行政区)

China Geography

images of Yangshuo, Guangxi, China
Yangshuo, Guangxi.

The People’s Republic of China has an area of about 9,600,000 km2 (3,700,000 sq mi). China has great physical diversity. The west and north of the country are dominated by sunken basins (such as the Gobi and the Taklamakan), rolling plateaus, and towering massifs. The eastern plains and southern coasts of the country consist of fertile lowlands and foothills and is the location of most of China’s agricultural output and human population. The southern areas of the country (South of the Yangtze River) consist of hilly and mountainous terrain. China contains part of the highest tableland on earth, the Tibetan Plateau, and has much lower agricultural potential and population.

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What are the highest mountains in China?

Mount Everest (8,848 meters) is Earth’s highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between China (Tibet Autonomous Region) and Nepal runs across its summit point. K2 at 8,611 meters above sea level, is the second-highest mountain in the world. K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang.

Mount Everest North Face as seen from the path to the base camp, Tibet. Photo: Luca Galuzzi

What are the longest rivers in China?

China has 50,000 rivers, each with a catchment area greater than 100 square kilometers.

China’s three major rivers are the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang, 长江, the third-longest river in the world. 6,300 kilometers long and has a catchment area of 1.8 million square kilometers), the Yellow River (Huang He, 黄河, 5,464 kilometers and has a catchment area of 752,000 square kilometers), the Heilongjiang (Heilong 黑龙江 or Black Dragon River, or Amur River). The longest river in South China is the Zhujiang (Pearl River), which is 2,214 kilometers long. Other major rivers are the Liaohe in the northeast, Haihe in the north, Qiantang in the east, and Lancang (Mekong) in the southwest.

Mekong river
Mekong River, Yunnan. Photo: Oliver Huang

Population of China

The People’s Republic of China is is the world’s most populous country. According to UN World Population Prospects 2017, China’s population is 1.411 billion.

According to the 2010 census, 91.51% of the population was Han Chinese, and 8.49% were ethnic minorities.

China’s population growth rate today is only 0.59%, ranking 159th in the world. However, during 1960-to 2015, the population doubled to nearly 1.4 billion.

Beijing Rickshaw
Beijing. Photo: Matteo Damiani

The one-child policy, a part of the family planning policy, was a controversial population planning introduced in 1979 and began to be formally phased out near the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. The one-child policy allowed exceptions for many groups, including ethnic minorities. According to the Chinese government, 400 million births were prevented.

The most populated province of China is Guangdong, with 104,303,132, followed by Shandong with 95,793,065 and Henan with 94,023,567 as per 2010 population data. The least populated is Tibet with 3,002,166.

China officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups. As of 2010, the combined population of officially recognized minority groups comprised 8.49% of the population of mainland China. The Han 漢 people are the largest ethnic group. Han is the name the Chinese have used for themselves since the Han Dynasty BC 202.

The major minority ethnic groups in China are Zhuang (16.9 million), Hui (10.5 million), Manchu (10.3 million), Uyghur (10 million), Miao (9.4 million), Yi (8.7 million), Tujia (8.3 million), Tibetan (6.2 million), Mongol (5.9 million), Dong (2.8 million), Buyei (2.8 million), Yao (2.7 million), Bai (1.9 million), Korean (1.8 million), Hani (1.6 million), Li (1.4 million), Kazakh (1.4 million), and Dai (1.2 million).

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The torch festival of the Yi people. Photo: Oliver Huang

Urban Development in China

The People’s Republic of China has urbanized significantly in recent decades. The percentage of China’s population living in urban areas increased from 20% in 1980 to over 55% in 2016. As of 2012, there are more than 262 million migrant workers in China, mostly rural migrants seeking work in cities.

Largest cities in China

9Hong KongHong Kong7,055,071

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China History

With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization. The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC). Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River.

The Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC) supplanted the Shang and introduced the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule. In the 8th century BC, the country eventually splintered into smaller states during the Spring and Autumn period. These states became independent and warred with one another in the following Warring States period.

In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang conquered the various warring states and created for himself the title of Huangdi or “emperor” of the Qin, marking the beginning of imperial China.

Qin Shi Huang was supplanted by the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly.

The History of the Republic of China begins after the Qing dynasty, with the Xinhai Revolution, the Chinese Revolution of 1911 when the formation of the Republic of China as a constitutional republic put an end to 4,000 years of Imperial rule.

Most nation-building efforts were stopped during the full-scale Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945, and later the widening gap between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party made a coalition government impossible, causing the resumption of the Chinese Civil War, in 1946, shortly after the Japanese surrender to the Americans and the Western Allies in September 1945. During the Second Sino-Japanese War many atrocities were made by the Japanese forces.

A series of political, economic, and military missteps led to the KMT’s defeat and its retreat to Taiwan (formerly “Formosa”) in 1949, where it established an authoritarian one-party state continuing under Chiang Kai-shek. Taiwan considered itself to be the continuing sole legitimate ruler of all of China, referring to the communist government or “regime” as illegitimate, a so-called “Peoples’ Republic of China” declared in Beijing (Peking) by Mao Zedong in 1949, as “mainland China”, “Communist China, or “Red China”.

Giuseppe Castiglione. The Qianlong Emperor in Ceremonial Armour on Horseback


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Images of China

At China-underground you may find thousands of amazing images of China.

China Economy

China’s economy is the world’s second-largest economy by nominal GDP and the world’s largest economy by purchasing power parity according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Until 2015, China was the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% over 30 years. According to the IMF, on a per capita income basis, China ranked 71st by GDP (nominal) and 78th by GDP (PPP) per capita in 2016. China also has the world’s largest total banking sector assets of $39.9 trillion (252 trillion CNY) with $26.54 trillion in total deposits. The country is the world’s largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods.

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China Technology

Science and technology have developed rapidly in China from the 1990s to the 2010s. China has made rapid advances in areas such as education, infrastructure, high-tech manufacturing, academic publishing, patents, and commercial applications and is now in some areas and by some measures a world leader.

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China Culture, Religion & Traditions

Traditional culture, and influences from other parts of Asia and the Western world (carried by waves of immigration, cultural assimilation, expansion, and foreign contact), form the basis of the modern culture of China.

Hungry Ghost Festival
According to Chinese folklore, during the festival, the restless spirits roam the earth. Photo: Matteo Damiani

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism (Chinese Buddhism), historically have had a significant role in shaping Chinese culture.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by China’s constitution. However religious organizations that lack official approval can be subject to state persecution.

Chinese Traditional Culture

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Chinese Modern Culture

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Chinese Language

The 10.000 Hour Journey and the Chinese Learning Tools You Can Use, Part 1
Photo: Matteo Damiani

There are as many as 292 living languages in China. The predominant language in China is known as Hanyu (汉语, Hànyǔ) or Han language. The languages most studied and supported by the state include Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Zhuang. 955 million out of China’s population spoke some variety of Mandarin Chinese as their first language, accounting for 71% of the country’s population. Hong Kong or Macau has different official languages (Cantonese, English, and Portuguese) than the mainland.

Standard Chinese (Pǔtōnghuà, 普通话), or simply Mandarin, is a standard variety of Chinese that is the sole official language of both China and Taiwan and also one of the four official languages of Singapore. Its pronunciation is based on the Beijing dialect, its vocabulary on the Mandarin dialects, and its grammar is based on written vernacular Chinese.

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Biodiversity and Wildlife of China

China has over 34,687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the third-most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Colombia.

As one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, China has, according to one measure, some 7,516 species of vertebrates including 562 mammals (the third-highest such number in the world), 403 reptiles (seventh), 1,269 birds (eighth), 4,936 fishes, and 346 amphibian species (seventh).

Many species of animals are endemic to China, including the country’s most famous wildlife species, the giant panda.

panda released
Giant Panda, photo: Matteo Damiani

At least 840 animal species are threatened, vulnerable or in danger of local extinction in China, due mainly to human activity such as habitat destruction, pollution, and poaching for food, fur, and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine.

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China Environmental Issue

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Sources: Wikipedia, 2, 3, 4, CIA World Fact Book
Images: Matteo Damiani, Oliver Huang, Wiki Commons

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