People's Republic of China
  • 中华人民共和国
  • Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
Flag National Emblem
Anthem: 
Area controlled by the People's Republic of China shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Area controlled by the People's Republic of China shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.
Capital Beijing
Largest city Shanghai
Official languages Standard Chinese
Recognised regional languages
Official written language Vernacular Chinese
Official script Simplified Chinese
Ethnic groups
  • 91.51% Han
Demonym Chinese
Government Socialist, Single-party state
 -  President Xi Jinping
 -  Premier Li Keqiang
 -  Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang
 -  Conference Chairman Yu Zhengsheng
 -  President of the Supreme People's Court Zhou Qiang
Legislature National People's Congress
Formation
 -  First Unification of China under the Qin Dynasty 221 BCE 
 -  Republic established 1 January 1912 
 -  People's Republic proclaimed 1 October 1949 
Area
 -  Total 9,596,961 km2 (3rd/4th)
3,705,407 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.28%
Population
 -  2015 estimate 1,376,049,000 (1st)
 -  2010 census 1,339,724,852 (1st)
 -  Density 2013 : 145/km2 (83rd)
373/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 -  Total $18.976 trillion (1st)
 -  Per capita $13,801 (87th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 -  Total $11.212 trillion (2nd)
 -  Per capita $8,154 (75th)
Gini (2012) 55.0
high
HDI (2013) Increase 0.719
high · 91st
Currency Renminbi (yuan)(¥) (CNY)
Time zone China Standard Time (UTC+8)
Date format
Drives on the right
Calling code +86
Internet TLD
  • .cn
  • .中國
  • .中国
See also: People's Republic of China and Republic of China

China (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國; Pinyin: Zhōngguó) is a cultural region, an ancient civilization, and a nation in East Asia.

The last Chinese Civil War (1927-1949) resulted in two different political powers today, even though both governments agree they are one nation:

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.

Origins

The first recorded use of the word "China" is dated 1555. It is derived from chīnī, a Persian adjective meaning 'Chinese' which was popularized in Europe by Marco Polo.

History

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, and even 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 Turkics, the Mongols lead 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.

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.

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.

Culture

China is the origin of Eastern martial arts, called Kung Fu or its first name Wushu. China is also the home of the well-respected Spa Monastery and Wudang Mountains. Martial art started more for the purpose of survival, defense, and warfare than art. Over time some art forms have branched off, while others have retained their distinct Chinese flavor.

China has had renowned artists including Wong Fei Hung (Huang Fei Hung or Hwang Fei Hung) and many others. Art has also co-existed with a variety of paints including the more standard 18 colors. Legendary and controversial moves like Big Mak are also praised and talked about within the culture.

China has many traditional festivals, such as Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Festival and so on. The most significant is Chinese New Year. People in China will have holidays to celebrate these festivals.

Festivals

Spring Festival is the Chinese New Year.

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.

Footnotes

Images


China for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.