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People's Republic of China

中华人民共和国 (Chinese)
National Emblem of China
National Emblem
Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ
"March of the Volunteers"
Territory controlled by the People's Republic of China is shown in dark green; territory claimed but not controlled is shown in light green.
Territory controlled by the People's Republic of China is shown in dark green; territory claimed but not controlled is shown in light green.
Capital Beijing
39°55′N 116°23′E / 39.917°N 116.383°E / 39.917; 116.383
Largest city
by population
Official languages Standard Chinese
Recognized regional languages
Official script Simplified Chinese
Ethnic groups
Demonym(s) Chinese
Government Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Xi Jinping
Han Zheng
• Premier
Li Qiang
Legislature National People's Congress
c. 2070 BCE
221 BCE
1 January 1912
• Proclamation of the People's Republic
1 October 1949
• First constitution
20 September 1954
• Current constitution
4 December 1982
• Most recent polity admitted
20 December 1999
• Total
9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi) (3rd / 4th)
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
Neutral decrease 1,411,750,000 (2nd)
• Density
145/km2 (375.5/sq mi) (83rd)
GDP (PPP) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $33.015 trillion (1st)
• Per capita
Increase $23,382 (73rd)
GDP (nominal) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $19.374 trillion (2nd)
• Per capita
Increase $13,721 (64th)
Gini (2019)  38.2
HDI (2021) Increase 0.768
high · 79th
Currency Renminbi (元/¥) (CNY)
Time zone UTC+8 (CST)
DST is not observed
Date format
Driving side right (mainland)
left (Hong Kong and Macau)
Calling code +86 (mainland)
+852 (Hong Kong)
+853 (Macau)
ISO 3166 code CN
Internet TLD
  • .cn
  • .中国
  • .中國 (mainland)
  • .hk
  • .香港 (Hong Kong)
  • .mo
  • .澳门
  • .澳門 (Macau)

China (Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's second-most populous country with a population exceeding 1.4 billion. China spans the equivalent of five time zones and borders fourteen countries by land, tied with Russia as having the most of any country in the world. With an area of nearly 9.6 million square kilometres (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the world's third largest country by total land area.

The country is officially divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

China emerged as one of the world's first civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. China was one of the world's foremost economic powers for most of the two millennia from the 1st until the 19th century. For millennia, China's political system was based on absolute hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin reunited core China and established the first Chinese empire. The succeeding Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread widely in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and the Horn of Africa. The Qing Empire, China's last dynasty, which formed the territorial basis for modern China suffered heavy losses to foreign imperialism. The Chinese monarchy collapsed in 1912 with the 1911 Revolution, when the Republic of China (ROC) replaced the Qing dynasty. China was invaded by the Empire of Japan during World War II. The Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China on mainland China while the Kuomintang-led ROC government retreated to the island of Taiwan. Both the PRC and the ROC currently claim to be the sole legitimate government of China, resulting in an ongoing dispute even after the United Nations recognized the PRC as the government to represent China at all UN conferences in 1971.

China is nominally a unitary one-party socialist republic. The country is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a founding member of several multilateral and regional cooperation organizations such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and is a member of the BRICS, the G8+5, the G20, the APEC, and the East Asia Summit.

It ranks among the lowest in international measurements of civil liberties, government transparency, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and ethnic minorities. Chinese authorities have been criticized by political dissidents and human rights activists for widespread human rights abuses, including political repression, mass censorship, mass surveillance of their citizens and violent suppression of protests.

After economic reforms in 1978, and its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, China's economy became the second-largest country by nominal GDP in 2010 and grew to the largest in the world by PPP in 2014. China is the world's fastest-growing major economy, the second-wealthiest nation in the world, and the world's largest manufacturer and exporter. The nation has the world's largest standing army — the People's Liberation Army — the second-largest defense budget, and is a recognized nuclear-weapons state. China has been characterized as a potential superpower due to its large economy and powerful military.


Yinxu, the ruins of the capital of the late Shang dynasty (14th century BCE)
China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, is famed for having united the Warring States' walls to form the Great Wall of China. Most of the present structure, however, dates to the Ming dynasty.

China has one of the world's oldest civilizations and has the oldest continuous civilization. It has archaeological evidence over 5,000 years old. It also has one of the world's oldest writing systems (and the oldest in use today), and is viewed as the source of many major inventions.

Ancient (2100 B.C. – 1500 A.D.)

Ancient China was one of the first civilizations and was active since the 2nd millennium BC as a feudal society. Chinese civilization was also one of the few to invent writing, with the others being Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley civilization, the Maya civilization, the Minoan civilization of ancient Greece, and Ancient Egypt. It reached its golden age during the Tang Dynasty (c. A.D. 10th century). Home of Confucianism and Daoism, it had great influence on nearby countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in the areas of political system, philosophy, religion, art, writing and literature. China is home to some of the oldest artwork in the world. Statues and pottery, as well as decorations made of jade, are some classic examples.

Before the Qin Dynasty united China, there were hundreds of small states that fought each other for hundreds of years in a war to control China. This is known as the Warring States Period. Although the continuing wars made people suffer, it was at this time when many great philosophies were born, including Confucianism and Daoism. Confucianism and Daoism alone have been the foundation of many social values seen in modern eastern-Asian cultures today.

Its geography mostly looked like that of modern China, except with northern and western edges that varied. It was often attacked by northern nomadic people such as the Turkic peoples and the Mongols led by Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. During the history of ancient China, the northern nomadic people and the Chinese people had been fighting each other and taking turns to rule the land and the people of China. However, when the northern people beat the Chinese people and came to rule the kingdom, they also Incorporated the Chinese way of living and became like the Chinese. Many of the strongest dynasties of China were ruled by the northern people, including the Qin, Tang, Yuan (Mongolian), and Qing. Each time, they also brought new elements into the Chinese culture.

A new age

While China achieved many things in the First millennium and early 2nd millennium, it became an isolationist country in the 15th century C.E. This was because Spain found enormous silver in the new continent, which was the main currency (money) in China and Europe at the time, and China did not want to be bought by the foreigners.

By the time of the Renaissance, European powers started to take over other countries in Asia. While China was never actually taken over, many European countries, such as Britain and France built spheres of influence in China. Since China had cut itself off from the world over the previous few centuries, by the Qing Dynasty, it had fallen behind other countries in technology, and was helpless to stop this from happening. This had become clear when it lost the Opium Wars to Britain in the 19th century.

Still influenced by Western sources, China faced internal strife. The Taiping Rebellion or Taiping War occurred in China from 1851 through 1864. The Taiping Rebellion was led by Hong Xiuquan from Guangdon. Hong Xiuquan was influenced by Christian missionaries and declared himself the brother of Jesus. Hong made his mission to bring down the Qing Dynasty. Gaining influence on the southern Chinese population, the Taiping Rebellion attracted tens of thousands of supporters. The Taiping regime successfully created a state within the Qing Empire with the capital at Nanjing. Hong called his new state the Taiping Tianguo or "The Heavenly State of Great Peace". Local armies eventually suppressed the rebellion at the final battle of Nanjing.

In 1911, the Republic of China was founded by Sun Yat-sen, but its government was very weak. Warlords controlled many areas. Chiang Kai-shek led wars against them, and he became President and dictator.

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, a place in the northeastern part of China. On July 7, 1937, the Japanese attacked the rest of the country, starting what was called the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war later became part of World War II. The war was fought for eight years and millions of Chinese people were killed.

China, Mao (2)
Mao Zedong founding the People's Republic of China in 1949

However, the Chinese Civil War later started between the Kuomintang (Nationalists) of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Communists of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Communists wanted to make China like the Soviet Union, whereas the other side wanted to keep China in its current state at the time. The Communists were led by Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and others. Later Liu lost influence with Mao and his death to this day remains unresolved. The Communists eventually won the war. The Nationalists (led by Chiang Kai-shek) fled to the island of Taiwan and set up their new capital city in Taipei. After the Chinese Civil War, the Communist leader Mao Zedong declared a new country, the People's Republic of China (PRC), in Beijing on October 1, 1949.

Under Mao the country stayed poor while Taiwan became richer. His attempt at industrialization and collectivization with the Great Leap Forward led to the deaths of many people from famine. The Cultural Revolution caused great social upheaval. After 1976, China underwent market economy reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and experienced rapid economic growth. China is now one of the largest economies in the world, relying mainly on exports.

In recent history, China has had problems with protests, blocking of information on the Internet, and censorship of news. 1989 was notable for the controversial Tian An Men Massacre.


China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, respectively, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers (9,000 mi) long and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China seas. China connects through the Kazakh border to the Eurasian Steppe which has been an artery of communication between East and West since the Neolithic through the Steppe route – the ancestor of the terrestrial Silk Road(s).

Landscape and climate

The territory of China lies between latitudes 18° and 54° N, and longitudes 73° and 135° E. China's landscapes vary significantly across its vast width. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grasslands predominate. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. High plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert. The world's highest point, Mount Everest (8,848m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. The country's lowest point, and the world's third-lowest, is the dried lake bed of Ayding Lake (−154m) in the Turpan Depression.

Biluthu Yinderitu
Yinderitu Lake in the Badain Jaran Desert in Inner Mongolia

China's climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's highly complex topography.


Panda Cub from Wolong, Sichuan, China
A giant panda photographed in Sichuan.

China is one of 17 megadiverse countries. It is in two of the world's major ecozones: the Palearctic and the Indomalaya. In the Palearctic zone, mammals such as the horse, camel, tapir, and jerboa can be found. Among the species in the Indomalaya region are the Leopard Cat, bamboo rat, treeshrew, and various monkey and ape species. Some overlap is between the two regions; deer, antelope, bears, wolves, pigs, and many rodent species can all be found in China's environments. The famous giant panda is found only in a limited area along the Yangtze River. China has a continuing problem with trade in endangered species. There are now laws to stop such activities.

China also has a variety of forest types. Cold coniferous forests cover most of the north of the country. The forest have animal species such as moose and the Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird species. Moist conifer forests can have thickets of bamboo. It is replaced by rhododendrons in higher montane stands of juniper and yew. Subtropical forests, which are mostly in central and southern China. These support as many as 146,000 species of flora. Tropical and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and Hainan Island, have a quarter of all the plant and animal species found in China.


The Great Hall of the People
where the National People's Congress convenes

The Chinese constitution states that The People's Republic of China "is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants," and that the state organs "apply the principle of democratic centralism."

The PRC is one of the world's only socialist states explicitly aiming to build communism.

The Chinese government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian and corporatist, with heavy restrictions in many areas, most notably against free access to the Internet, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right to have children, free formation of social organizations and freedom of religion.


J-10a zhas
A PLAAF Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft

The PRC Armed Forces, also known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA), is one of the most powerful armies in the world. Nowadays PRC is among the atomic powers in the world. It also has the largest standing army in the world of over 2 million soldiers on active duty.


People's Bank of China in Beijing is the central bank of the People's Republic of China.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange building in Shanghai's Lujiazui financial district. Shanghai has the 25th-largest city GDP in the world, totalling US$304 billion in 2011.
The headquarters of the oil company Sinopec in Beijing. Sinopec was China's largest and the world's third-largest company by revenue in 2014, with a total annual revenue of over US$450 billion.
Headquarters of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou. Alibaba is the world's largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the largest Internet and AI companies.

China had the largest economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline.

Major sectors of competitive strength include manufacturing, retail, mining, steel, textiles, automobiles, energy generation, green energy, banking, electronics, telecommunications, real estate, e-commerce, and tourism.

China has three out of the ten largest stock exchanges in the world—Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen—that together have a market capitalization of over $10 trillion, as of 2019.

China has been the world's No. 1 manufacturer since 2010, after overtaking the US, which had been No. 1 for the previous hundred years. China has also been No. 2 in high-tech manufacturing since 2012, according to US National Science Foundation.

China is the second largest retail market in the world, next to the United States.

China leads the world in e-commerce, accounting for 40% of the global market share in 2016 and more than 50% of the global market share in 2019.

China is the world's leader in electric vehicles, manufacturing and buying half of all the plug-in electric cars (BEV and PHEV) in the world in 2018.

China had 174 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2018, which amounts to more than 40% of the global solar capacity.

China brought more people out of extreme poverty than any other country in history—between 1978 and 2018, China reduced extreme poverty by 800 million.


China has over 160 cities with a population of over one million, including the seven megacities (cities with a population of over 10 million) of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen, and Wuhan. Shanghai is China's most populous urban area while Chongqing is its largest city proper.

By 2025, it is estimated that the country will be home to 221 cities with over a million inhabitants.

Largest cities or municipalities in the People's Republic of China
China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook 2018 Urban Population and Urban Temporary Population
Rank Name Pop.
1 Shanghai 24,237,800
2 Beijing 18,634,000
3 Guangzhou 13,154,200
4 Shenzhen 13,026,600
5 Tianjin 12,968,100
6 Chongqing 11,488,000
7 Wuhan 9,180,000
8 Chengdu 8,379,700
9 Hong Kong 7,448,900
10 Dongguan 6,850,300

Ethnic groups

China ethnolinguistic 1967
Ethnolinguistic map of China in 1967

China legally recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, who comprise the Zhonghua minzu. The largest of these nationalities are the Han Chinese, who constitute more than 91% of the total population. The Han Chinese – the world's largest single ethnic group – outnumber other ethnic groups in every provincial-level division except Tibet and Xinjiang. Ethnic minorities account for less than 10% of the population of China, according to the 2020 census. Compared with the 2010 population census, the Han population increased by 60,378,693 persons, or 4.93%, while the population of the 55 national minorities combined increased by 11,675,179 persons, or 10.26%. The 2020 census recorded a total of 845,697 foreign nationals living in mainland China.


Lihaozhai High School - P1360829
Lihaozhai High School in Jianshui, Yunnan. The sign is in Hani (Latin alphabet), Nisu (Yi script), and Chinese.

There are as many as 292 living languages in China. The languages most commonly spoken belong to the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, which contains Mandarin (spoken by 80% of the population), and other varieties of Chinese language: Jin, Wu, Min, Hakka, Yue, Xiang, Gan, Hui, Ping and unclassified Tuhua (Shaozhou Tuhua and Xiangnan Tuhua). Languages of the Tibeto-Burman branch, including Tibetan, Qiang, Naxi and Yi, are spoken across the Tibetan and Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. Other ethnic minority languages in southwestern China include Zhuang, Thai, Dong and Sui of the Tai-Kadai family, Miao and Yao of the Hmong–Mien family, and Wa of the Austroasiatic family. Across northeastern and northwestern China, local ethnic groups speak Altaic languages including Manchu, Mongolian and several Turkic languages: Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Salar and Western Yugur. Korean is spoken natively along the border with North Korea. Sarikoli, the language of Tajiks in western Xinjiang, is an Indo-European language. Taiwanese indigenous peoples, including a small population on the mainland, speak Austronesian languages.

Standard Mandarin, a variety of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect, is the national language and de facto official language of China. It is used as a lingua franca between people of different linguistic backgrounds. In the autonomous regions of China, other languages may also serve as a lingua franca, such as Uyghur in Xinjiang, where governmental services in Uyghur are constitutionally guaranteed.


China Top 10 Biggest Cities
Map of the ten largest cities in China (2010)

China has urbanized significantly in recent decades. The percent of the country's population living in urban areas increased from 20% in 1980 to over 64% in 2021. China has over 160 cities with a population of over one million, including the 17 megacities as of 2021 (cities with a population of over 10 million) of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xi'an, Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Linyi, Shijiazhuang, Dongguan, Qingdao and Changsha. The total permanent population of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu is above 20 million. Shanghai is China's most populous urban area while Chongqing is its largest city proper, the only city in China with a permanent population of over 30 million. The figures in the table below are from the 2020 census, and are only estimates of the urban populations within administrative city limits; a different ranking exists for total municipal populations. The large "floating populations" of migrant workers make conducting censuses in urban areas difficult; the figures below include only long-term residents.

Largest cities or municipalities in the People's Republic of China
China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook 2018 Urban Population and Urban Temporary Population
Rank Name Pop.
1 Shanghai 24,237,800
2 Beijing 18,634,000
3 Guangzhou 13,154,200
4 Shenzhen 13,026,600
5 Tianjin 12,968,100
6 Chongqing 11,488,000
7 Wuhan 9,180,000
8 Chengdu 8,379,700
9 Hong Kong 7,448,900
10 Dongguan 6,850,300


13 Peking University
Beijing's Peking University, one of the top-ranked universities in China

Compulsory education in China comprises primary and junior secondary school, which together last for nine years from the age of 6 and 15. The Gaokao, China's national university entrance exam, is a prerequisite for entrance into most higher education institutions. Vocational education is available to students at the secondary and tertiary level. More than 10 million Chinese students graduated from vocational colleges every year. In 2022, about 91.6 percent of students continued their education at a three-year senior secondary school, while 59.6 secondary school graduates were enrolled in higher education.

China has the largest education system in the world, with about 282 million students and 17.32 million full-time teachers in over 530,000 schools. Annual education investment went from less than US$50 billion in 2003 to more than US$817 billion in 2020. However, there remains an inequality in education spending. In 2010, the annual education expenditure per secondary school student in Beijing totalled ¥20,023, while in Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces, only totalled ¥3,204. China's literacy rate has grown dramatically, from only 20% in 1949 and 65.5% in 1979, to 97% of the population over age 15 in 2020.

As of 2021, China has over 3,000 universities, with over 44.3 million students enrolled in mainland China and 240 million Chinese citizens have received high education, making China the largest higher education system in the world. As of 2023, China had the world's highest number of top universities. Currently, China trails only the United States and the United Kingdom in terms of representation on lists of the top 200 universities according to the 2023 Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities, a composite ranking system of three world-most followed university rankings (ARWU+QS+ THE). China is home to two of the highest-ranking universities (Tsinghua University and Peking University) in Asia and emerging economies, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings. These universities are members of the C9 League, an alliance of elite Chinese universities offering comprehensive and leading education.


Distribution of religions in China
Geographic distribution of religions in China:

Chinese folk religion (including Confucianism, Taoism, and groups of Chinese Buddhism)
Buddhism tout court
Ethnic minorities' indigenous religions
Mongolian folk religion
Northeast China folk religion influenced by Tungus and Manchu shamanism; widespread Shanrendao

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by China's constitution (Chapter 2, Article 36), although religious organizations that lack official approval can be subject to state persecution. The government of the country is officially atheist. Religious affairs and issues in the country are overseen by the National Religious Affairs Administration, under the United Front Work Department.

Over the millennia, the Chinese civilization has been influenced by various religious movements. The "three doctrines", including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism (Chinese Buddhism), historically have a significant role in shaping Chinese culture, enriching a theological and spiritual framework of traditional religion which harks back to the early Shang and Zhou dynasty. Chinese folk religion, which is framed by the three doctrines and by other traditions, consists in allegiance to the shen (神), a character that signifies the "energies of generation", who can be deities of the surrounding nature or ancestral principles of human groups, concepts of civility, culture heroes, many of whom feature in Chinese mythology and history. Amongst the most popular cults of folk religion are those of Huangdi, embodiment of the God of Heaven and one of the two divine patriarchs of the Chinese people, of Mazu (goddess of the seas), Guandi (god of war and business), Caishen (god of prosperity and richness), Pangu and many others. In the early decades of the 21st century, the Chinese government has been engaged in a rehabilitation of folk cults — formally recognizing them as "folk beliefs" (a category different from that of doctrinal religions), and often reconstructing them into forms of "highly curated" civil religion — as well as in a national and international promotion of Buddhism. China is home to many of the world's tallest religious statues, representing either deities of Chinese folk religion or enlightened beings of Buddhism; the tallest of all is the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan.

Statistics on religious affiliation in China are difficult to gather due to complex and varying definitions of "religion" and "belief" and the unorganized, diffusive nature of Chinese religious traditions. Scholars note that in China there is no clear boundary between the three doctrines and local folk religious practices. Chinese religions or some of their currents are also definable as non-theistic and humanistic, since they do not hold that divine creativity is completely transcendent, but that it is inherent in the world and in particular in the human being. According to studies published in 2023, compiling reliable demographic analyses holden throughout the 2010s and the early 2020s, 70% of the Chinese population believes in or practices Chinese folk religion; among them, with an approach of non-exclusivity, 33.4% may be identified as Buddhists, 19.6% as Taoists, and 17.7% as adherents of other types of folk religion. Of the remaining population, 25.2% are fully non-believers or atheists, 2.5% are adherents of Christianity, and 1.6% are adherents of Islam. Chinese folk religion also comprises a variety of salvationist doctrinal organized movements which emerged since the Song dynasty. In China, there are also various ethnic minority groups who maintain their own indigenous religions, while sects of the major religions specifically connected to certain ethnic groups include Tibetan Buddhism among Tibetans and Mongols, and Islam among the Hui, Uyghur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz peoples, and other ethnicities in the northern and northwestern regions of the country.

Culture and society

The Temple of Heaven, a center of heaven worship and an UNESCO World Heritage site, symbolizes the Interactions Between Heaven and Mankind.
Yellow Register Archives of the Ming Dynasty, Nanjing (flickr 1559896574)
A moon gate in a Chinese garden

Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by Confucianism. Chinese culture, in turn, has heavily influenced East Asia and Southeast Asia. For much of the country's dynastic era, opportunities for social advancement could be provided by high performance in the prestigious imperial examinations, which have their origins in the Han dynasty. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy, poetry and painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. Chinese culture has long emphasized a sense of deep history and a largely inward-looking national perspective. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today.

Fenghuang old town
Fenghuang County, an ancient town that harbors many architectural remains of Ming and Qing styles

Today, the Chinese government has accepted numerous elements of traditional Chinese culture as being integral to Chinese society. With the rise of Chinese nationalism and the end of the Cultural Revolution, various forms of traditional Chinese art, literature, music, film, fashion and architecture have seen a vigorous revival, and folk and variety art in particular have sparked interest nationally and even worldwide. Access to foreign media remains heavily restricted.


China received 65.7 million international visitors in 2019, and in 2018 was the fourth-most-visited country in the world. It also experiences an enormous volume of domestic tourism; Chinese tourists made an estimated 6 billion travels within the country in 2019. China hosts the world's second-largest number of World Heritage Sites (56) after Italy, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations (first in the Asia-Pacific).


Pekin przedstawienie tradycjnego teatru chinskiego 7
The stories in Journey to the West are common themes in Peking opera.

Chinese literature is based on the literature of the Zhou dynasty. Concepts covered within the Chinese classic texts present a wide range of thoughts and subjects including calendar, military, astrology, herbology, geography and many others. Some of the most important early texts include the I Ching and the Shujing within the Four Books and Five Classics which served as the Confucian authoritative books for the state-sponsored curriculum in dynastic era. Inherited from the Classic of Poetry, classical Chinese poetry developed to its floruit during the Tang dynasty. Li Bai and Du Fu opened the forking ways for the poetic circles through romanticism and realism respectively. Chinese historiography began with the Shiji, the overall scope of the historiographical tradition in China is termed the Twenty-Four Histories, which set a vast stage for Chinese fictions along with Chinese mythology and folklore. Pushed by a burgeoning citizen class in the Ming dynasty, Chinese classical fiction rose to a boom of the historical, town and gods and demons fictions as represented by the Four Great Classical Novels which include Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West and Dream of the Red Chamber. Along with the wuxia fictions of Jin Yong and Liang Yusheng, it remains an enduring source of popular culture in the Chinese sphere of influence.

In the wake of the New Culture Movement after the end of the Qing dynasty, Chinese literature embarked on a new era with written vernacular Chinese for ordinary citizens. Hu Shih and Lu Xun were pioneers in modern literature. Various literary genres, such as misty poetry, scar literature, young adult fiction and the xungen literature, which is influenced by magic realism, emerged following the Cultural Revolution. Mo Yan, a xungen literature author, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012.


Chinese architecture has developed over millennia in China and has remained a vestigial source of perennial influence on the development of East Asian architecture, including in Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. and minor influences on the architecture of Southeast and South Asia including the countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Chinese architecture is characterized by bilateral symmetry, use of enclosed open spaces, feng shui (e.g. directional hierarchies), a horizontal emphasis, and an allusion to various cosmological, mythological or in general symbolic elements. Chinese architecture traditionally classifies structures according to type, ranging from pagodas to palaces.

Chinese architecture varies widely based on status or affiliation, such as whether the structures were constructed for emperors, commoners, or for religious purposes. Other variations in Chinese architecture are shown in vernacular styles associated with different geographic regions and different ethnic heritages, such as the stilt houses in the south, the Yaodong buildings in the northwest, the yurt buildings of nomadic people, and the Siheyuan buildings in the north.


Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players, in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent, and which was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago.

China has one of the oldest sporting cultures. There is evidence that archery (shèjiàn) was practiced during the Western Zhou dynasty. Swordplay (jiànshù) and cuju, a sport loosely related to association football date back to China's early dynasties as well.

Physical fitness is widely emphasized in Chinese culture, with morning exercises such as qigong and tai chi widely practiced, and commercial gyms and private fitness clubs are gaining popularity. Basketball is the most popular spectator sport in China. The Chinese Basketball Association and the American National Basketball Association also have a huge national following amongst the Chinese populace, with native-born and NBA-bound Chinese players and well-known national household names such as Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian being held in high esteem. China's professional football league, known as Chinese Super League, is the largest football market in East Asia. Other popular sports include martial arts, table tennis, badminton, swimming and snooker. China is home to a huge number of cyclists, with an estimated 470 million bicycles as of 2012. China has the world's largest esports market. Many more traditional sports, such as dragon boat racing, Mongolian-style wrestling and horse racing are also popular.

China has participated in the Olympic Games since 1932, although it has only participated as the PRC since 1952. China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where its athletes received 48 gold medals – the highest number of any participating nation that year. China also won the most medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, with 231 overall, including 95 gold. In 2011, Shenzhen hosted the 2011 Summer Universiade. China hosted the 2013 East Asian Games in Tianjin and the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, the first country to host both regular and Youth Olympics. Beijing and its nearby city Zhangjiakou collaboratively hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics, making Beijing the first dual Olympic city by holding both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.


Dragon boat racing
Dragon boat racing, a popular traditional Chinese sport

Spring Festival is the Chinese New Year. It lasts fifteen days. It starts with the first day of the Chinese lunar year and ends with the full moon fifteen days later. On the first day of the Spring Festival, people call on friends and relatives. Because most of people watch the Spring Festival Celebrations on CCTV all the night on New Year's Eve and don't go to bed until 12:00 AM, they usually get up later in the next day. The fifth day of the Spring Festival is the day to welcome the god of Wealth (Chinese:财神爷), many people make and eat dumplings (Chinese:饺子). They believe that dumplings can hold the god of Wealth and bring luck.The last day of the Spring Festival is the Lantern Festival. On this day, the moon becomes the full moon. People go out and watch the lantern festivals everywhere. After that, they eat sweet dumpling (Chinese:汤圆,元宵), a kind of dumpling which is round and looks like the full moon.

Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States period. He persuaded his emperor not to accept Qin's diplomats' offers several times but his emperor did not listen to him. He was very sad and ended up jumping into the river to end his life. The people loved him so much that they did not want the fish to eat his corpse. They made and threw rice dumplings into the river. They hope the fish eat these dumplings instead of the poet's corpse. They also rowed dragon boats in the river to get rid of the fish. Such practices, eating rice dumplings and holding dragon boat races, become what Chinese do in this festival nowadays.

Held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, Mid-Autumn Festival is a festival for families. Now when the festival sets in, people would sit together to eat moon cakes, appreciate the bright full moon cakes, appreciate the bright full moon, celebrate the bumper harvest and enjoy the family love and happiness. To the Chinese people, the full moon symbolizes family reunion, as does the "moon cakes." Hence the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Family Reunion Festival.


Chinese foods from different regional cuisines
Foods from different regional cuisines: laziji from Sichuan cuisine; xiaolongbao from Jiangsu cuisine; rice noodle roll from Cantonese cuisine; and Peking duck from Shandong cuisine

Chinese cuisine is highly diverse.

Generally, China's staple food is rice in the south, wheat-based breads and noodles in the north.

The diet of the common people in pre-modern times was largely grain and simple vegetables, with meat reserved for special occasions. And the bean products, such as tofu and soy milk, remain as a popular source of protein. Pork is now the most popular meat in China, accounting for about three-fourths of the country's total meat consumption.

While pork dominates the meat market, there is also the vegetarian Buddhist cuisine and the pork-free Chinese Islamic cuisine.

Southern cuisine, due to the area's proximity to the ocean and milder climate, has a wide variety of seafood and vegetables; it differs in many respects from the wheat-based diets across dry northern China.

Numerous offshoots of Chinese food, such as Hong Kong cuisine and American Chinese food, have emerged in the nations that play host to the Chinese diaspora.


Pekin przedstawienie tradycjnego teatru chinskiego 7
The stories in Journey to the West are common themes in Peking opera

Chinese music covers a highly diverse range of music from the traditional music to the modern music. Chinese music dates back before the pre-imperial times. Traditional Chinese musical instruments were traditionally grouped into eight categories known as bayin (八音). Traditional Chinese opera is a form of musical theatre in China originating thousands of years and has regional style forms such as Beijing opera and Cantonese opera. Chinese pop (C-Pop) includes mandopop and cantopop. Chinese rap, Chinese hip hop and Hong Kong hip hop have become popular in contemporary times.


Duge Bridge
The Duge Bridge is the highest bridge in the world.

Trains are commonly used for moving from one place to another, mainly for long distances. Bullet trains are faster and more common in the cities. China has more high-speed trains than any other country in the world. Buses and air transport are also very common.

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