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General Information
 

China is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, next to Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, or one-fifteenth of the world's landmass. It begins from the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli Rivers (135 degrees and 5 minutes east longitude) in the east to the Pamirs west of Wuqia County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (73 degrees and 40 minutes east longitude) in the west, with about 5,200 kilometers apart. In the north, it starts from the midstream of the Heilong River north of Mohe (53 degrees and 31 minutes north latitude) and stretches south to the southernmost island Zengmu'ansha in the South China Sea (4 degrees and 15 minutes north latitude), with about 5,500 kilometers in between.

The Chinese border stretches over 22,000 kilometers on land and its coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometers, washed by the waters of the Bohai Sea, the Huanghai, the East China and the South China Seas. The Bohai Sea is China’s only inland sea.

There are 6,536 islands larger than 500 square meters, the largest being Taiwan, with a total area of about 36,000 square kilometers, and the second, Hainan. The South China Sea Islands are the southernmost island group of China.

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

CLIMATE: 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.

HISTORY: 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. (For a brief history of China, Click Here)

STATE ORGANS:

The National People's Congress (NPC)

The President of the People's Republic of China

The State Council

The Central Military Commission

The Supreme People's Court

The Supreme People's Procuratorate
(More government agencies....)

ARMED FORCE: The People's Liberation Army (PLA) (click here for more information.)

THE RULING PARTY: The Communist Party of China (CPC)

STATE PRESIDENT: Hu Jintao

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 Chinese Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year's Day in 2005 was on February 9. The year 2003 is the Year of Rooster in Chinese zodiac system.

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.

LANGUAGES: 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.

NATIONALITIES: 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.

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...

RIVERS: China has 50,000 rivers that cover a catchment area of at least 100 square kilometers, and 1,500 of them cover a catchment 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.

RELIGIONS: 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.

TOPOGRAPHY: 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.

MONEY: 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).

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.)

TELEPHONE AREA CODE: Mainland China 86; Hong Kong 852; Taiwan 886. (Special Telephone Numbers: Police 110; Fire 119; Emergency 120.)

ROAD DRIVE SIDE:

Mainland China: on the right
Hong Kong: on the left
Taiwan: on the right

INTERNET DOMAIN CODE:

Mainlan China: cn (such as "....org.cn" , "...edu.cn" or "....com.cn")
Hong Kong: hk
Taiwan: tw

 

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