History of China


  • Xia Dynasty c. 2100–c. 1600 BC
  • Shang Dynasty c. 1600–c. 1046 BC
  • Zhou Dynasty c. 1045–256 BC
  • Western Zhou
  • Eastern Zhou (Spring and Autumn Warring States)


  • Qin Dynasty 221–206 BC
  • Han Dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD
  • Western Han
  • Xin Dynasty

Eastern Han

  • Three Kingdoms 220–280
  • Wei, Shu and Wu
  • Jin Dynasty 265–420
  • Western Jin 16 Kingdoms 304–439 Eastern Jin

Southern and Northern Dynasties 420–589

  • Sui Dynasty 581–618
  • Tang Dynasty 618–907
  • (Second Zhou 690–705)
  • 5 Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms 907–960
  • Liao Dynasty 907–1125
  • Song Dynasty 960–1279
  • Northern Song W. Xia Southern Song Jin
  • Yuan Dynasty 1271–1368
  • Ming Dynasty 1368–1644
  • Qing Dynasty 1644–1911


  • Republic of China 1912–1949
  • People’s Republic of China 1949–present
  • Republic of China on Taiwan 1949–present

Chinese Flag


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.

Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.


Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:

Map references: Asia 35 00 N, 105 00 E

Total Area: 9,596,961 sq km
Country Comparison to the world: 4th
Land: 9,569,901 sq km
Water: 27,060 sq km
Area – Comparative: slightly smaller than the US Land boundaries: total: 22,117 km
border countries: Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Mongolia 4,677 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km regional borders: Hong Kong 30 km, Macau 0.34 km

Coastline: 14,500 km
Maritime claims:
Territorial Sea: 12 nm
Contiguous Zone: 24 nm
Exclusive Economic Zone: 200 nm

Continental Shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate:extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north

Terrain:mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east

Elevation Extremes:
Lowest Point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
Highest Point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (highest point in Asia)

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)

Land Use:
arable land: 11.62%
permanent crops: 1.53%
other: 86.84% (2011)

Irrigated Land:
629,380 sq km (2006)

Total renewable water resources:
2,840 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 554.1 cu km/yr (12%/23%/65%)
per capita: 409.9 cu m/yr (2005)

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; China is the world’s largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; 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
Geography – note: world’s fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US); Mount Everest on the border with Nepal is the world’s tallest peak

People and Society


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)

Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
note: Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)

Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)

1,349,585,838 (July 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.2% (male 124,773,577/female 107,286,198)
15-24 years: 15.4% (male 109,922,192/female 98,325,568)
25-54 years: 46.7% (male 322,161,347/female 308,101,780)
55-64 years: 11.3% (male 77,374,476/female 75,289,733)
65 years and over: 9.4% (male 60,597,243/female 65,753,724) (2013 est.)

Population Pramid:
Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 36.8 %
youth dependency ratio: 24.7 %
elderly dependency ratio: 12.1 %
potential support ratio: 8.2 (2013)

Median Age:
total: 36.3 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 37.2 years (2013 est.)

Population Growth Rate:
0.46% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155

Birth Rate:
12.25 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Death Rate:
7.31 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122

Net Migration Rate:
-0.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

urban population: 50.6% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 2.85% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
Shanghai 16.575 million; BEIJING (capital) 15.594 million; Chongqing 9.401 million; Shenzhen 9.005 million; Guangzhou 8.884 million (2011)

Sex Ratio:
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2013 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:
37 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 117

Infant Mortality Rate:
total: 15.2 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 110
male: 15.16 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:
total population: 74.99 years
country comparison to the world: 100
male: 72.96 years
female: 77.27 years (2013 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:
1.55 children born/woman (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate:
84.6% (2006)

Health Expenditures:
5.2% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 135

Physicians density:
1.46 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital Bed Density:
3.8 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking Water Source:

urban: 98.4% of population
rural: 84.9% of population
total: 91.7% of population

urban: 1.6% of population
rural: 15.1% of population
total: 8.3% of population (2011 est.)
Sanitation facility access:

urban: 74.1% of population
rural: 55.8% of population
total: 65.1% of population

urban: 25.9% of population
rural: 44.2% of population
total: 34.9% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
740,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
26,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Japanese encephalitis
soil contact disease: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
5.7% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 152

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
3.4% (2010)
country comparison to the world: 107

Education expenditures:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.1%
male: 97.5%
female: 92.7% (2010 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2011)

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