China, officially the People’s Republic of China is a sovereign country located in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion (135 crores). It covers about 9.6 million sq km of land area, being the world’s third-largest country after Russia and Canada. It has 14,500 km long coastline along the Pacific Ocean. It is a vast country with diverse regions ranging from the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalayas including Karakoram, Panir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate the Republic of China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard.
China is one of the ancient civilizations in the world. It flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain for 5,000 years. The Republic of China overthrew the last imperial dynasty in 1912 and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. After the defeat of the empire of Japan in World War II (1939-1945), the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949. Beijing became the capital city. In 1950 China succeeded in occupying Tibet. The Great Wall of China was built by several dynasties over two thousand years to protect the sedentary agricultural regions of the Chinese interior from incursions by Nomadic Pastoralists of the northern steppes.
The Chinese leader Mao encouraged population growth, and under his leadership, the Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million. In 1966 Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a period of political recrimination and social upheaval which lasted until Mao’s death in 1976. After Mao’s death and the arrest of the faction known as the Gang of Four who were blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping took power and led the country to significant economic reforms. The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens’ personal lives and the communes were disbanded in favour of private land leases. This turn of the event marked China’s transaction from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open market system.
In October 1971, the PRC took its seat as a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN. On 1 January 1979, the US officially recognised the PRC as China’s sole legitimate government. China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. In 1989, the violent suppression of student protests in Tiananmen Square brought worldwide condemnation against the Chinese government.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world’s fastest-growing major economy. The country formally joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and maintained its high rate of economic growth. As of 2014, it is the world’s second-largest economy by both total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP) and is also the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods. Now it is a recognized nuclear weapons state and it possesses the world’s largest standing army.
As in 2000, the literacy rate in China was 98.9% in the educational field. And in consideration of health care as of 2012, China’s national average life expectancy is 74.8 years and the infant mortality rate is 1.56% only. However, in recent decades, China has suffered from severe environmental deterioration and pollution. Environmental campaigners have warned that water pollution is becoming a serious threat to Chinese society. China’s climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to temperature differences between winter and summer. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country’s highly complex topography.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by China’s Constitution and the Chinese people have diverse religious faith mainly with the great impact of Taoism and Buddhism. However, as of the 1998 survey, 59% of the population are non- religious.
China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world. It has been participating in the Olympic Games since 1932, although as the PRC since 1952. It won 231 medals including 95 gold medals at the 2012 Summer Para- Olympics.