China Facts - General information about China
The People's Republic of China referred to as "China", is located in the east of Asia and the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, with Beijing as the capital. China has a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers, and more than 7,600 islands in the sea, of which Taiwan island is the largest. China borders 14 countries and is adjacent to 8 countries by sea.
As one of the four ancient civilizations, China is one of the countries with the longest history in the world and has a brilliant culture. With a vast territory coupled with a long history and splendid culture, China has abundant tourism resources. By November 2020, China has 55 "World Heritage sites", ranking second in the world. Among them, there are 14 "Natural Heritage" and 4 "Natural and Cultural heritage", both of which rank first in the world.
China's Country Profile
- Name: the People's Republic of China
- Capital: Beijing
- Continent: Asia
- Time Zone: GMT+8
- Country Code: CHN
- National Day: 1 October
- Language: Chinese (General Mandarin)
- International Telephone Area Code: +86
- Population: 1.405 billion (2019, Mainland China)
- National Land Area: 9.6 million square kilometers
- Road Traffic: Keep right (Keep left in Hong Kong and Macau)
- Currency: RMB (Hong Kong Dollar, Macau Pataca, New Taiwan Dollar)
China is one of the earliest civilizations in the world, with a history of nearly 5,000 years. Ancient Chinese history includes three stages: primitive society stage (1.7 million years ago - 2070 BC), slave society stage (2070 BC - 475 BC), and feudal society stage (475 BC - 1840 AD). From 1840 to 1949, China experienced many wars at home and abroad, and history of humiliation and loss of power. Coupled with the development of domestic national rights and many revolutionary movements, New China, the People's Republic of China was finally established on 1 October 1949. From the beginning of a new period of reform and opening up in 1979 to the establishment of a market economic system in 1992, China is gradually moving towards prosperity and greatness.
China is located in eastern Asia and the western coast of the Pacific Ocean. The territory is vast, with a land area of about 9.6 million square kilometers, ranking third in the world, which is approximately equal to the total area of Europe. China has a land border of 22,800 kilometers, bordering North Korea to the east, Mongolia to the north, and Russia to the northeast. It borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to the northwest, and Pakistan, India, and Nepal to the west and southwest. The south is connected with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. The east and southeast are across the sea from South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Topography and Landform
The terrain of China is high in the west and low in the east, complex and diverse. The proportions of various types of terrain to the total land area are 33.3% of the mountain, 26% of the plateau, 18.8% of the basin, 12% of the plain, and 9.9% of the hill. The terrain forms a three-level ladder from west to east: the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the west, with an elevation of more than 4,000 meters, is known as the "roof of the world" and the first ladder. The second ladder is from the east and north of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to Daxinganling, Taihang Mountain, Wushan Mountain, and Xuefeng Mountain, which altitude is generally 1,000-2,000 meters, mainly composed of mountains, plateaus, and basins. The broad plains and hills of eastern China are the third ladder. The continental shelf to the east and south of the coastline contains rich seabed resources.
The Administrative Area
China can be divided into four major parts: the northern region, the southern region, the northwest region, and the Qinghai-Tibet region. There are 34 provincial-level administrative units, including 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities, and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The population base is large with rapid growth, and there are numerous ethnic groups.
China has a vast territory, a wide range of latitudes, a large difference of distance from the ocean. In addition, the terrain is different, the topography and mountain ranges are diverse, so the combination of temperature and precipitation is diverse, forming a diverse climate. There are temperate monsoon climate, subtropical monsoon climate, tropical monsoon climate, tropical rainforest climate, temperate continental climate and plateau mountain climate, and other climate types. From south to north, it spans tropical, subtropical, warm temperate, medium temperate, and cold temperate climate zones.
|Distribution Range and Representative Regions and Cities
|The whole province of Hainan and the southern part of Yunnan, Guangdong, and Fujian provinces.
|Qinling Mountains—south of Huaihe River and east of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Such as Shanghai and Chongqing.
|Warm Temperate Zone
|Most areas of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River and southern Xinjiang. Such as Beijing, Tianjian, Shandong Province.
|Middle Temperate Zone
|Northeast, most of Inner Mongolia, and northern Xinjiang. Such as Harbin, Datong, Hohhot, Urumqi.
|Cold Temperate Zone
|Northern Heilongjiang Province and northeastern Inner Mongolia.
|All areas of Tibet and parts of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces.
Population and Ethnicity
By the end of 2019, the total population of Mainland China is 1.405 billion people. There are 56 nationalities officially recognized by China, and the Han nationality has the largest population, accounting for more than 90% of the total population of China. The other 55 ethnic groups have relatively small populations and are called ethnic minorities. The ethnic minorities in China are mainly distributed in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Tibet, Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Taiwan, and other provinces and autonomous regions.
Splendid and Diverse Culture
Among the 55 ethnic minorities, except for the Hui and Manchu ethnic groups that use Chinese (Mandarin), the other 53 ethnic minorities all speak their own languages. From the perspective of language families, the languages spoken by the 56 ethnic groups in China belong to five major language families: Sino-Tibetan, Altaic, Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and Indo-European languages.
Art and Crafts
There are many kinds of Chinese arts and crafts, and many of them are superb and unique. Various kinds of folk handicrafts are made by cutting, tying, weaving, embroidering, sculpting, modeling, and painting, with strong local flavor and national style. Not even to mention the Chinese calligraphy, silk, porcelain, pottery, seals, etc. A good place to see these exquisite artworks is the museum, of which you shouldn't miss the Shaanxi History Museum in Xi'an - one of the best museums that collect more than 300,000 items including murals, paintings, pottery, and bronze objects.
After thousands of years of development, Chinese food culture is a long regional culture with a broad vision, deep level, multi-angle and high taste. China's food culture is the wealth created and accumulated by the Chinese people in the production and life practices of food source development, food utensils research, food conditioning, nutrition, and health care, and diet aesthetics. Kung Pao Chicken, a famous traditional dish at home and abroad, can be regarded as the essence of Chinese food culture. It is the best in terms of appearance, taste, aroma, and nutritional value.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine is a kind of traditional medicine that originated in China and is based on the medical practice of the ancient Chinese Han people. It has a history of thousands of years. It is a discipline that studies human physiology, pathology, and disease diagnosis and prevention. In 2018, it was incorporated into its global influential medical program by the World Health Organization. Chinese medicine has played a very obvious role in the treatment of COVID-19. Several of these herbs have shown significant antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects on inhibiting the COVID-19 virus.
Chinese traditional drama has a unique title - Chinese opera, which, together with Greek tragedy and comedy and Indian Sanskrit, is also known as the world's three ancient drama cultures. There are more than 300 types of Chinese opera, and the use of song and dance to express the plot is the main method of Chinese opera. It is characterized by the convergence of many art forms in a single standard, composed of literature, music, dance, fine arts, and performing arts.
A Must-try Experience in China
1. Visiting a Museum
The most useful and fastest way to understand the history of a nation, the development of a country or a city is to visit its museums. Due to the long history and splendid culture, several museums have been created in most provinces and cities in China. When travelers plan to tour China, spending a half-day to visit a museum is definitely worth it. Here we’ve listed the below 4 famous museums for your inspiration.
- National Museum of China in Beijing
- Shaanxi History Museum in Xi’an
- Sichuan Museum in Chengdu
- Shanghai Museum
2. Wandering around a Grocery Market
A market is an indispensable place in the life of Chinese people. It is also a place closest to the daily life of ordinary people. Every city and town in China has its own unique grocery market. In the southern region and the northern region, the inland city and the coastal city, the markets are quite different, and the goods they sell are also different. The grocery market mainly sells fresh vegetables, fruits, various meats, eggs, seafood, spices, seasonings, etc. Some markets also sell tableware and household items, such as brooms and garbage cans. You can choose to visit a grocery market in any city in China, and it is best to go in the morning when the goods are most complete. After 15:00 pm, many vegetables and meat are sold out, and many vendors will close or have left the market.
3. Watching a Performance or Night Show
Watching a performance or a night show with Chinese characteristics during the trip, which is a great experience during a China tour. China's culture is extensive and profound, which has also created a variety of performances. There are dramas, ancient Chinese musical instrument concerts, traditional Chinese operas, Kung Fu performances, and large-scale live singing and dancing performances. Most provincial capitals or the cities that are famous for their natural scenery have wonderful and spectacular performances. Below we have listed some performances and night-shows that travelers should not miss when traveling to China.
- Beijing: Beijing Opera at Liyuan Theatre (Only at night)
- Beijing: Shaolin Kungfu Show at Beijing Red Theater (Only at night)
- Xi'an: Tang Dynasty Show (Only at night)
- Chengdu: Sichuan Opera
- Guilin and Yangshuo: Impression Liu Sanjie (Only at night)
- Kunming: Dynamic Yunnan
- Lijiang: Impressive Lijiang (Only in the daytime)
4. Exploring Foodie Street or Night Market
Chinese cuisine is well-known all over the world, and travelers can find delicious restaurants and snacks everywhere in China. Most cities such as Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin, and Luoyang have their own snack streets and night markets. In some cities, there are several food gathering areas and snack streets. In addition, ancient towns like Pingyao, Dali, Lijiang, and Tongli Water Town are also gathering areas for snacks and food. In addition to selling a variety of snacks and delicacies, the foodie street and night market also sell many exquisite crafts and handmade works. Many are very suitable for buying as souvenirs or as gifts for family or friends. If travelers plan to visit the above cities, then it would be a wonderful experience to choose one or two nights to go to the foodie street or night market.
Popular Destinations and Top Attractions
- Beijing: The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Hutongs.
- Xi’an: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an City Wall, Muslim Quarter.
- Shanghai: Yu Garden, The Bund, Skyscrapers, Zhujiajiao Water Town.
- Guilin & Yangshuo: Li River, Yulong River, Xianggong Mountain, Longji Rice Terraces.
- Sichuan Province: Giant Panda Base in Chengdu; Jiuzhaigou National Park; Mount Emei; Leshan Giant Buddha; Tibetan areas in western Sichuan.
- Zhangjiajie: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianmen Mountain, and other top Zhangjiajie attractions.
- Datong & Pingyao: Yungang Grottoes, Hanging Monastery, Pingyao Ancient City, the City Wall of Pingyao.
- Yunnan Province: Stone Forest in Kunming; Rice Terraces in Yuanyang; the ancient towns in Dali and Lijiang; Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang; Tiger Leaping Gorge and Pudacuo National Park in Shangri-La; Mount Meili and other spots in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
- Tibet: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, and Sera monastery in Lhasa; Namtso Lake in Nagqu Prefecture; YamdrokTso Lake in Lhoka; Everest Base Camp, Tashilhunpo Monastery, and Gyantse Kumbum in Shigatse; Mount Kailash, Manasarovar Lake and Guge Kingdom Ruin in Ngari Prefecture; Draksum Tso in Nyingchi; Yambulakhang and Tradruk Temple in Tsedang.
- Silk Road Travel: Karez Well, Gaochang Ruins, and the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in Turpan; Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Lake and Echoing Sand Mountains in Dunhuang; Maiji Mountain and Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui; Karakul Lake, Apak Hoja Tomb, Id Kah Mosque, Sunday market in Kashgar; Kizil Thousand Caves and Grand Mosque in Kuqa; Yorung Kash and Taklamakan Desert in Hotan; Danxia Landform in Zhangye.
Recommended Travel Routes
For first-time travelers, this 13-days Classic China tour to Beijing-Xi'an-Guilin-Shanghai is a perfect match, as this travel route covers the most two important historical and cultural cities - Beijing and Xi'an, the stunning natural scenery in Guilin and Yangshuo, and the fast-developing modern city of Shanghai where skyscrapers and all kinds of modern buildings are located.
- If travelers prefer to visit and hike in China’s magnificent mountains, then Zhangjiajie or Mount Huangshan can be a good replacement to Guilin and Yangshuo.
- For giant pandas lovers, travelers can take a 4-hour high-speed train to Chengdu after Xi'an. As the hometown of giant pandas, Chengdu is also a popular getaway to Mount Emei, one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China, which is just two hours away from Chengdu by driving.
- If travel to China in winter and want to go to a warmer place to view the natural scenery, then Yunnan is an ideal destination, where most of the regions are like spring all year round.
For in-depth travelers who plan to explore regional China, the first choice is Tibet. Tibet is famous for its majestic, magical, and magnificent natural scenery. In addition, its unique culture, folklore, and religious beliefs are the purest and most peaceful existence in this world. Currently, foreign visitors can’t travel to Tibet alone and must be accompanied by a local Tibet travel agency to visit various scenic spots and monasteries in Tibet. In addition, a separate Tibet permit is required.
We have planned and arranged some classic Tibet group tour according to clients' needs and more than 13 years of experience and records, with a number limit of 12 people. This can save part of the travel expenses and share the joy of travel with travelers from all over the world. The trip ranges from 4 days up to 15 days, which covers all famous sites like Potala Palace, Everest Base Camp, Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Tso Lake, Shigatse, Mt Kailash (with 3-days Kora trek), Lake Manasarovar, etc.
In addition, all the above-mentioned itineraries can be arranged as private tours and tailor-made according to travelers' interests and requirements. Check out our private Tibet tour for more details.
Useful Travel Tips
- Travelers don't need to go to the local bank of your country to exchange RMB before departure. All major international airports in China have foreign currency exchange services. There are also many ATMs in the airports, and general international bank cards such as Visa/Master/JCB/American Express can be used here. Please note that the only RMB can be withdrawn from an ATM, and the denomination can only provide CN¥100. We do not recommend going to banks in any city in China to exchange currency, because it takes more than 1-3 hours to wait in line. Bank ATMs are available in all streets and in some shopping malls, scenic spots, and hotels have ATMs too.
- Gmail (or accounts connected to Google), YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook are not available in China. Travelers must download a VPN app on the phone to access all those apps before leaving for China.
- Mainland China's electrical current is 220 V, 50 HZ. If the voltage in your country is different from China, please prepare a transformer/power converter in advance. Some hotels now have multiple USB plugs to make it easier to charge the phone or other digital items.
- Most international airports sell Chinese SIM cards, which can be purchased according to your travel time. Of course, you can also choose to activate the international roaming service before departure. Generally, airports and hotels will provide free Wi-Fi, and many large railway stations, shopping malls, and restaurants will also have free Wi-Fi.
- China's public security is good, and criminal incidents against tourists basically do not occur. In general, take good care of your belongings when you go out and pay attention to the transportation schedule.
- Most Chinese do not speak English, but young people in cities like Shanghai can communicate in basic English. Basically, all scenic spots will have English signs, and some even provide free maps in multiple languages.
- It is recommended that tourists prepare regular medicines before traveling. For example, antibiotics can only be purchased with a Chinese doctor's prescription.
- Due to the large population of China, there is a large flow of people in major scenic spots during peak seasons, and it may take a while to queue up. For the attractions like the Forbidden City and Mogao Grottoes, entrance tickets must be booked at least half a month in advance.