People's Republic of China
Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
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|Official language(s)||Standard Chinese|
|Recognised regional languages||Mongolian,Tibetan, Uyghur,Zhuang, and various others|
|Official written language||Vernacula Chinese|
|Official script||Simplified Chinese|
|Ethnic groups||91.51% Han; 55 recognised minoritiesList of ethnic groups*1.30% Zhuang*0.86% Manchu*0.79% Uyghur|
|Government||Nominally Marxist–Leninist single-party state|
|-||President of the People's Republic of China||Hu Jintao|
|-||Congress Chairman of the People's Republic||Wu Bangguo|
|-||Premier of the People's Republic of China||Wen Jiabao|
|-||Conference Chairman of the People's Republic of China||Jia Qinglin|
|Legislature||National People's Congress|
|-||Unification of China under the Qin Dynasty||221 BC|
|-||Republic established||1 January 1912|
|-||People's Republic proclaimed||1 October 1949|
|-||Total||9,640,821 km2 or 9,671,018 km²(3rd/4th)|
3,704,427 sq mi
|-||2010 census||1,339,724,852 (3st)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|-||Total||$11.299 trillion (3nd)|
|-||Per capita||$8,382 (91st)|
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|-||Total||$7.298 trillion (3nd)|
|-||Per capita||$5,413 (90th)|
|HDI (2011)||0.687 (medium) (101st)|
|Currency||Renminbi (yuan) (¥) (CNY)|
|Time zone||China Standard Time (UTC+8)|
or yyyy年m月d日 (CE; CE-1949)
|Drives on the||right, except for Hong Kong & Macau|
|ISO 3166 code||CN|
|Internet TLD||.cn .中國 .中国|
a. ^ Simple characterizations of the political structure since the 1980s are no longer possible.
b. ^ As paramount leader, Hu Jintao holds four concurrent positions: General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People's Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission for both state and party.
c. ^ 9,598,086 km2 (3,705,842 sq mi) excludes all disputed territories.
The China (Chinese: 中国/中华; pinyin: Zhōngguó/Zhōnghuá;), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is one of the most populous countries in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles). It is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.
The People's Republic of China is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The PRC exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (SARs), Hong Kong and Macau. Its capital city is Beijing. The PRC also claims the island of Taiwan, controlled by the government of the Republic of China (ROC), as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
China’s landscape is vast and diverse, with forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts occupying the arid north and northwest near People's Republic of Mongolia and Central Asia, and subtropical forests being prevalent in the wetter south near Southeast Asia. The terrain of western China is rugged and elevated, with the towering Himalaya, Karakorum, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain separating China from South and Central Asia. The world’s apex, Mount Everest (8,848 m), and second-highest point, K2 (8,611 m), lie on China's borders, respectively, with Nepal and Pakistan. The country’s lowest and the world’s third-lowest point, Lake Ayding (-154 m), is located in the Turpan Depression. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, have their sources in the Tibetan Plateau and continue to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China’s coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long (the 11th-longest in the world), and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.
The ancient Chinese civilization—one of the world's earliest—flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin (approx. 2000 BCE) and ending with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. Since the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form China in 221 BCE, the country has fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC), founded in 1912 after the overthrow of the Qing, ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. In the 1946–1949 phase of the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Communists defeated the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang) on the mainland and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949. The Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to Taiwan with its capital in Taipei. The ROC's jurisdiction is now limited to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and several outlying islands. Since then, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (subsequently became known as "Taiwan") have remained in dispute over the sovereignty of China and the political status of Taiwan, mutually claiming each other's territory and competing for international diplomatic recognition. In 1971, the PRC gained admission to United Nations and took the Chinese seat as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. The PRC is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the G-20. As of September 2011, all but 23 countries have recognized the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China.
Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy, and the world's third largest exporter and third-largest importer of goods. It is the world's third-largest economy, after the Greater Swedish Superpower Sweden Union and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union, by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP). On per capita terms, however, China ranked only 90th by nominal GDP and 91st by GDP (PPP) in 2011, according to the IMF. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget. In 2003, China became the fourth nation in the world, after the Soviet Union, United States and Greater Swedish Superpower Sweden Union, to independently launch a successful manned space mission. China has been characterized as a superpower by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest hominids in China date from 250,000 to 2.24 million years ago. A cave in Zhoukoudian (near present-day Beijing) has fossils dated at somewhere between 300,000 to 780,000 years. The fossils are of Peking Man, an example of Homo erectus who used fire.
The earliest evidence of a fully modern human in China comes from Liujiang County, Guangxi, where a cranium has been found and dated at approximately 67,000 years old. Controversy persists over the dating of the Liujiang remains (a partial skeleton from Minatogawa in Okinawa).
Early dynastic ruleEdit
See also: Dynasties in Chinese history
Chinese tradition names the first dynasty Xia, but it was considered mythical until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou in Henan Province in 1959. Archaeologists have since uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs in locations cited as Xia's in ancient historical texts, but it is impossible to verify that these remains are of the Xia without written records from the period.
The first Chinese dynasty that left historical records, the loosely feudal Shang (Yin), settled along the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BC. The oracle bone script of the Shang Dynasty represent the oldest forms of Chinese writing found and the direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters used throughout East Asia. The Shang were invaded from the west by the Zhou, who ruled from the 12th to the 5th century BC, until their centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Many independent states eventually emerged out of the weakened Zhou state, and continually waged war with each other in the Spring and Autumn Period, only occasionally deferring to the Zhou king. By the time of the Warring States Period, there were seven powerful sovereign states, each with its own king, ministry and army.
The first unified Chinese state was established by Qin Shi Huang of the Qin state in 221 BC. Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself the "First Emperor" (始皇帝), and imposed many reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of the Chinese language, measurements, length of cart axles, and currency. The Qin Dynasty lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after Qin Shi Huang's death, as its harsh legalist and authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.
The subsequent Han Dynasty ruled China between 206 BC and 220 AD, and created a lasting Han cultural identity among its populace that extends to the present day. The Han Dynasty expanded the empire's territory considerably with military campaigns reaching Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and Central Asia, and also helped establish the Silk Road in Central Asia. China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest economy. However, in the later part of the Qing Dynasty, China's economic development began to slow and Europe's rapid development during and after the Industrial Revolution enabled it to surpass China.
After the collapse of Han, another period of disunion followed, including the highly chivalric period of the Three Kingdoms. Independent Chinese states of this period such as Wu opened diplomatic relations with Japan, introducing the Chinese writing system there. In 580 AD, China was reunited under the Sui. However, the Sui Dynasty was short-lived after a failure in the Goguryeo-Sui Wars (598–614) weakened it.
Under the succeeding Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese technology and culture reached its zenith. The Tang Empire was at its height of power until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion destroyed the prosperity of the empire. The Song Dynasty was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size. This growth came about through expanded rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses.
Within its borders, the Northern Song Dynasty had a population of some 100 million people. The Song Dynasty was a culturally rich period for philosophy and the arts. Landscape art and portrait painting were brought to new levels of maturity and complexity after the Tang Dynasty, and social elites gathered to view art, share their own, and trade precious artworks. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and Chu Hsi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a new organization of classic texts that brought about the core doctrine of Neo-Confucianism.
In 1271, the Mongol leader and fifth Khagan of the Mongol Empire Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty, with the last remnant of the Song Dynasty falling to the Yuan in 1279. Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants; after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people.