November 25, 2012 8:58 pm

More people live in China than live in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan put together. It’s the world’s biggest country in population and the fourth largest in area. Only Russia, Canada, and the United States are larger.
China is located in eastern Asia. Its official name is the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese themselves call their country Zhongguo, which means “Central Country” or “Middle Kingdom.”
Facts About China
Official name
People’s Republic of China
1,330,000,000 people
Rank among countries in population
Major cities
Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin
3,700,000 square miles
9,570,000 square kilometers
Rank among countries in area
Highest point
Mt. Everest
29,035 feet/8,850 meters
One in every five people in the world lives in China. That adds up to about 1.3 billion people in all. The port city of Shanghai is China’s largest city. The second biggest city is Beijing, the capital. Each has more than 13 million people!
China covers more than one-fifth of Asia, the world’s biggest continent. At its widest point, east to west, China extends about 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers).
China’s great size gives it almost every kind of terrain and weather. The highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas, lie partly in China’s western territory. China is home to huge, empty deserts in the north and northwest, called the Gobi and the Takla Makan. Dense, tropical forests cover slopes and valleys in the far south.
Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze, flows 3,900 miles (6,300 kilometers) across China before reaching the Pacific Ocean at Shanghai. The river provides water for China’s rich farmlands, where tea, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and soybeans are grown.
Some kinds of animals that have become extinct elsewhere still survive in China. But China’s growing human population poses a threat to many of these wild animals.
Southwestern China is home to a famous black-and-white bear called the giant panda. Today, giant pandas are endangered. There are only about 1,000 of them still living in the wild. A small deer, called the Chinese water deer, survives only in Central China and Korea.
There are many ways to speak the Chinese language. Chinese has different forms that are spoken in different parts of the country. These forms are called dialects. Most Chinese speak one of the Mandarin dialects. In fact, more people speak Mandarin than any other language in the world.
Most of China’s people are known as Han Chinese. But China also recognizes 55 minority groups. They include Tibetans, Mongols, and many smaller groups. Many minority groups speak their own native languages.
Chinese civilization is one of the world’s oldest. The earliest Chinese cities go back more than 5,000 years. China influenced the culture of many surrounding countries, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
China gave the world many famous inventions. The Chinese invented paper and printing. They made the first silk, the first porcelain, and the first compass. Do you like fireworks or kites or playing cards? The Chinese were the first to make these things, too. These inventions gradually spread to other parts of the world.
Have you ever heard someone say “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”? If you have, then you know at least one saying from Confucius. It’s sometimes called the “golden rule” of Confucius.
Confucius was a Chinese teacher and philosopher. He lived about 2,500 years ago. Confucius valued old books and learning. He believed people should respect their elders and parents. He said that leaders couldn’t rule well if they didn’t live a good life. His sayings and teachings are still important in China today.
Confucius didn’t actually write his sayings down. His students and followers did. That’s why many of his thoughts begin with the phrase “Confucius said …”
Confucianism is just one of several traditional Chinese religions. Daoism and Buddhism are other important ones.
For thousands of years, dynasties ruled over China. Dynasties were rich and powerful families led by an emperor. The most famous was the Ming dynasty.
The Ming dynasty built the Great Wall of China starting in the late 1400s to protect China from outside invaders. The wall winds thousands of miles across northern China and is the longest structure ever built.
The Ming dynasty also built the Forbidden City in Beijing. This was a beautiful palace surrounded by walls that no ordinary people could enter. That’s changed. Today, anyone can visit the Forbidden City. It’s one of China’s biggest tourist attractions.
In the early 1900s, the last Chinese dynasty fell. Bitter fighting and a civil war broke out. In 1949, the civil war ended and Mao Zedong, the head of the Communist Party, became leader of China. The Communist Party still rules China today.
For many years, China was closed to people and products of the outside world. But China has changed a lot. In the 1980s and 1990s, it opened its doors to visitors and trade. China’s economy grew quickly.
Millions of people have moved from the countryside into cities to find work. In the cities, there are thousands of factories that produce many of the toys, clothes, and machines sold today in the United States and other countries. Although China remains poor by world standards, it is rapidly catching up with more developed countries.
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