About China (The Country)


For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. China since the early 1990s has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.


China is the world's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US). Mount Everest on the border it shares with Nepal is the world's tallest peak

Geographic coordinates

35 00 N, 105 00 E


Total: 9,596,961 sq km Country Comparison to the World: 4 Land: 9,569,901 sq km Water: 27,060 sq km Area - Comparative: Slightly smaller than the US


Current Weather extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north


Mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east.

Lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m

Highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m

Natural Resources

Coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, rare earth elements, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest).

Natural Hazards

Frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence volcanism: China contains some historically active volcanoes including Changbaishan (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu, or P'aektu-san), Hainan Dao, and Kunlun although most have been relatively inactive in recent centuries.

Environment - Current Issues

Air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species. Environment - international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements.




1,330,141,295 (July 2010 est.) Country comparison to the world: 1

Age Structure

0-14 years: 19.8% (male 140,877,745/female 124,290,090) 15-64 years: 72.1% (male 495,724,889/female 469,182,087) 65 years and over: 8.1% (male 51,774,115/female 56,764,042) (2010 est.)

Median Age

Total: 35.2 years Male: 34.5 years Female: 35.8 years (2010 est.)

Population Growth

Overall Growth Rate: 0.494% (2010 est.) (Country Comparison to the World: 153) Birth rate: 12.17 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) Country comparison to the world: 164 Death rate:6.89 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) Country comparison to the world: 142 Net migration rate: -0.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) (Country comparison to the world: 135)


Urban population: 43% of total population (2008) Rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex Ratio

At birth: 1.14 male(s)/female Under 15 Years: 1.17 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female Total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate

Total: 16.51 deaths/1,000 live births Country comparison to the world: 114 Male: 15.84 deaths/1,000 live births Female: 17.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth

Total Population: 74.51 years (Country comparison to the world: 93) Male: 72.54 years Female: 76.77 years (2010 est.)

Total Fertility Rate

1.54 children born/woman (2010 est.) (Country comparison to the world: 182)


People living with HIV/AIDS: 700,000 (2007 est.) (Country comparison to the world: 17) HIV/AIDS - deaths: 39,000 (2007 est.) Country comparison to the world: 15 Major infectious diseases: Degree of risk: intermediate Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever Vectorborne diseases: Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever Soil contact disease: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) Animal contact disease: rabies


Noun: Chinese (singular and plural) Adjective: Chinese Ethnic groups: Han Chinese 91.5%; Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uighur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5% (2000 census)


Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%.

Note: officially atheist (2002 est.)


Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect) (official), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages.

Note: Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write Total population: 91.6% Male: 95.7% Female: 87.6% (2007) School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): Total: 11 years Male: 11 years Female: 12 years (2008)

Education expenditures: 1.9% of GDP (1999) (Country comparison to the world: 172)


Country name

Conventional long form: People's Republic of China Conventional short form: China Local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Local short form: Zhongguo Abbreviation: PRC Government type: Communist state


Name: Beijing Geographic Coordinates: 39 55 N, 116 23 E

Time Difference

UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Note: despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone; many people in Xinjiang Province observe an unofficial "Xinjiang timezone" of UTC+6, two hours behind Beijing

Legal system

Based on civil law system; derived from Soviet and continental civil code legal principles; legislature retains power to interpret statutes; constitution ambiguous on judicial review of legislation; party organs exercise authority over judiciary; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal


China's economy since the late 1970s has changed from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one that plays a major role in the global economy - in 2010 China became the world's largest exporter. Reforms began with the phasing out of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, creation of a diversified banking system, development of stock markets, rapid growth of the private sector, and opening to foreign trade and investment. China generally has implemented reforms in a gradualist fashion.

In recent years, China has renewed its support for state-owned enterprises in sectors it considers important to "economic security," explicitly looking to foster globally competitive national champions. After keeping its currency tightly linked to the US dollar for years, in July 2005 China revalued its currency by 2.1% against the US dollar and moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. From mid 2005 to late 2008 cumulative appreciation of the renminbi against the US dollar was more than 20%, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing allowed resumption of a gradual appreciation. The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978.

Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2010 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, having surpassed Japan in 2001. The dollar values of China's agricultural and industrial output each exceeded those of the US, although China was second to the US in the value of services it produced. Still, per capita income is below the world average.

The Chinese government faces numerous economic development challenges, including: (a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic demand; (b) sustaining adequate job growth for tens of millions of migrants and new entrants to the work force; (c) reducing corruption and other economic crimes; and (d) containing environmental damage and social strife related to the economy's rapid transformation. Economic development has progressed further in coastal provinces than in the interior, and approximately 200 million rural laborers and their dependents have relocated to urban areas to find work.

One demographic consequence of the "one child" policy is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the north - is another long-term problem. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. The Chinese government is seeking to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, focusing on nuclear and alternative energy development. In 2009, the global economic downturn reduced foreign demand for Chinese exports for the first time in many years, but China rebounded quickly, outperforming all other major economies in 2010 with GDP growth around 10%.

The economy appears set to remain on a strong growth trajectory in 2011, lending credibility to the stimulus policies the regime rolled out during the global financial crisis. The government vows to continue reforming the economy and emphasizes the need to increase domestic consumption in order to make the economy less dependent on exports for GDP growth in the future, but China likely will make only marginal progress toward these rebalancing goals in 2011. Two economic problems China currently faces are inflation - which, late in 2010, surpassed the government's target of 3% - and local government debt, which swelled as a result of stimulus policies, and is largely off-the-books and potentially low-quality.

Source: CIA World Factbook - China

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