IREE 2010 - China in Brief
China is a highly diverse and complex country in terms of both physical and human geography. The total area is about 9.6 million square kilometers, making China the third largest country in land size in the world, which is close behind Russia and Canada. With a continental land boundary of more than 20,000 kilometers, China adjoins Korea in the east, Mongolia in the north, Russia in the northeast, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan and Tajikistan in the northwest, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan in the west and southwest, and Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam in the south. Within its borders, China embraces the world’s largest population, comprising the Han people and over fifty ethnic minorities. The Han people are the most numerous, with a population of about 1.042 billion and live all over the country. The language and script of Han people, known as the Chinese language, are most used in China. Over the various areas throughout which the Chinese language is spoken, there are many different dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. The standard Chinese language based on the Beijing pronunciation as the norm and a grammar modeled on modern vernacular writing. In addition to the standard Chinese, each of the ethnic minorities has its own system of language.
China is usually described as the world’s oldest continuous civilization. With more than 4,000 years of a long and brilliant history, China is one of the few existing countries that flourished economically and culturally in the earliest period of world civilization. For most westerners, China is a mysterious, remote, and ancient country, where much of the revival miracle of this land is unknown to them. “Zhongguo,” the name says it all: China, the “Century Country “or “Middle Kingdom.” The Chinese traditionally regarded themselves as at the center of the universe, as if to say the other cultures were satellites of theirs. Nowadays, China has no longer an isolated country and has shed centuries of insularity. After the communist triumph in 1949, the Communist Party has led China to build up a new society with the goal of achieving “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
With the fastest speed of development, China’s economic rise has been breathtaking. It has become one of the world's major economic powers with the greatest potential, and the overall living standard has reached that of a fairly well-off society. The standard of living in the largest cities has risen significantly, foreign businesses have flooded in the country, and China’s role on the international stage is more important than ever before.
Modern China is undergoing remarkable and rapid change. Despite Great drawbacks of development suffered before 1949 due to the Cultural Revolution, its historical and achievements has transformed the country into an economic and military near-superpower, tourist destination, and seal-holder at the top level of international discourse and diplomacy. This astonishing and successful transformation gives rise to a new theory of development that has created an unprecedented self-image of new China – a country of modern and international significance, meeting needs and desires of its people and opening up its arms to the world.
Supplemental ResourcesChina Factfile (Gov.cn: The Chinese Central Government's Official Web Portal)
World Factbook: China (CIA)
Map of China
Symbols of China
The National Flag, National Emblem, and National Anthem of China
National Flower of China: Luoyang Peony
National Animal of China: Giant Panda
Chengdu Panda Research Base
Chinese Ethnic Groups, Nationalities
Interesting Chinese - Language and Culture
Languages - Chinese (BBC)
2008 Eyes on Beijing - Capital City of China Image by moohaha, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic, http://www.flickr.com/photos/moohaha/6144635/