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Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Total population (millions): 1,296.5
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 40%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.6%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km) : 9,598,050

Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Hans 91.9 %
Zhuangs 1.2 %
Manchus 0.8 %
Door 0.7 %
Miaos 0.6 %
Ouigours 0.5 %
Dujias 0.4 %
Mongols Khalkhas 0.3 %
Dngs 0.2 %
Other 2.6 %

Main Cities Population
Shanghai 14 230 992
Beijing 10 300 723
Guangzhou 7 547 467
Tianjin 6 839 008
Wuhan 6 787 482
Shenzhen 6 480 340

Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Beijing (GMT+8 ).

Official language: Mandarin Chinese (with, unlike Tawan, simplified characters since the 60's)
Spoken languages: There are more than a hundred dialects which limit a lot oral understanding of the language. The Mandarin in the North of the country and the Cantonese Chinese.
Business language: Chinese (Mandarine and Cantonese) and English.

Free translation tools

Babel Fish
Free English-Chinese-English translation of texts and web sites

Free English-Chinese dictionary

Religious practises : Atheists 70.9%
Tribal Religions 19.8%
Buddhists 6.2%
Christians 0.3%
Others 2.8%

Political context

China is a Republic communist state having a single party system. China (Official name: People's Republic of China) is ruled by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which is authoritarian in structure and ideology.
President is the chief of the state and is elected by the National People's Congress (NPC) for a five-year term. President holds the executive powers. President nominates the Premier (head of the government) and the Cabinet subject to confirmation by the NPC. The politburo (political bureau) of the CCP sets policy and controls all administrative, legal and executive appointments. The nine-man politburo standing committee is the focus of power. The Chinese government has always been subordinate to the CCP, its role is to implement the party's policies.
The legislature is unicameral. It consists of the National People's Congress (NPC) whose members are elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses to serve five-year terms. There are 22 provinces, 4 municipalities directly under central government control and five autonomous regions. China considers Taiwan its 23rd province. The political rights of the people of China are very much limited.
Judiciary is not independent in China. The government controls the judiciary. The CCP directs verdicts and sentences, particularly in politically sensitive cases. The constitution is based on the promulgation of December 1982; with country's legal system originating from the civil law system which has been derived from Soviet and continental civil code legal principles. China has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Mandarin-Chinese is the judicial language of China, having an interpreter is possible.
China is developing towards a society ruled by law. The gradual implementation of reforms over the past several years has freed millions of Chinese from CCP control of their day-to-day lives. The judiciary does not guarantee an impartial trial to a foreign national. A high degree of corruption exists in the country, especially corruption within the CCP is rampant.

Major political parties

The one and only political party in the country is CCP (Chinese Communist Party).
Though there are eight other registered small parties but all of them are controlled by CCP.

Major political leaders

President: HU Jintao (since March 2003) - CCP
Premier: WEN Jiabao (since March 2003) - CCP

Next political election dates

Presidential: March 2008
National People's Congress : late 2007 to early 2008




The extent of the territory can explain the extreme climatic amplitudes. In the North, winters last from December to March and are extremely cold. In Beijing, the temperature easily drops below 0C, with a generally dry and sunny weather, but in the Northern part of the Great Wall or within Mongolia, temperatures can reach - 40C. Over the summer, the temperature usually exceeds 35C in Beijing, with numerous showers of rain. Spring and autumn are pleasant, with diurnal temperatures oscillating between 20 and 25C and cool nights. But, caution, winter can last for long in the capital.
In the centre region, including Shanghai, summers are pretty long, warm and wet. Wuhan, Chongqing and Nankin were nicknamed the " three ovens " by locals! Winters are short and cold, with negative temperatures. Except over the summer, weather can be humid and unpleasant at any time of the year.
Around Guangzhou (Canton), the warm and wet season (up to 38C) extends from April to September. It is also the rain and cyclones season. Winter, without being as rigorous as in the North of the country, can be surprisingly cold. Autumn and spring, are often pleasant, but it can also rain or drizzle continuously.
In the North-West, summers are warm and dry, even hot in desertic regions (up to 47C in Tourfan, Xinjiang), and winters are icy. In Tibet, you can easily have the four seasons in a single day: biting cold then intense heat, biting winds, storms of dust, sand, snow or (rarely) rain.



Number of visitors in China 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 41,761 46,809 49,600 5
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005


Tourist sites
Beijing: the Tiananmen place is dominated by a huge Mao's statue, the heart of the city, witness of numerous historic and political events. All around, there is a curious mix of monuments from the past and the present : Tiananmen (the door of the heavenly Peace), national symbol, the museum of History of the Chinese revolution, the palace of the People's Assembly, Qianmen (the front door), the Mao's mausoleum and the monument dedicated to people Heroes. Then, the Forbidden City is worth visiting: it is the most gigantic and best protected of the Chinese architectural sets. Built in the XVth century and reconstructed in the XVIIIth, it was used as a place of pension and leisure for emperors and their courtiers; today the offices of the eminent members of the PCC are located there.
Shanghai, Queen of the East, city of the adventurers, the players, the idle, the dandies, the missionaries, the opium takers, the gangsters and the swindlers... Shanghai has always haunted memories. Today, it tries hard to throw away the rags of collectivism and makes an obvious archaism coexist with the attributes of the most advanced modernism. Located in the mouth of Yangzi, it occupied an ideal position to become a commercial harbour and built its fortune on opium, silk and tea.
Xi'an once competed with Rome, then Constantinople, for the title of " biggest town of the world ". For more than two millenniums, it witnessed the rise, and then the decline, of numerous dynasties; its monuments and its archaeological sites remind that it used to be the centre of the Chinese world. Today, Xi'an is one of the major attractions of the country. Several historic vestiges are spread in the surroundings. There is over there a certain Islamic influence with a Muslim district and the mosque. Finally, this is where the famous terracotta Army of soldiers, buried in the ground for about 2.000 years, was discovered in 1974.
The Great Wall, also called the "Long Wall of the 10,000 lis" (the li being a measurement unit corresponding to 539 m), extends from the coast up to the Gobi's desert. The construction started 2,000 years ago and required the participation of hundreds of thousands of workers. It is interesting to note that the wall, which had been forgotten for a long time, but was saved by tourism is, for numerous Chinese, more a symbol of tyranny than of beauty.
Protected by the Himalaya fortress, Tibet has been occupying for a long time a special place in the Occidental myth : Sometimes called either Shangri-La, "country of the Snows" or "Roof of the world", it remains surrounded with a particular aura. For years and years, rare are those who had the privilege to go to Lhasa. When it opened, in the 80's, Tibet was no longer this magic Buddhist realm, which impassioned travellers of the first half of the XXth century.

For more information about tourism in China , check out the following web site(s) :
China National Tourism Office (CNTO)


Traditional dishes
The Chinese gastronomy is one of the richest and most sophisticated in the world.
There are four regional variants: the Beijing and Shandong food makes the most of noodles rather than rice and has for specialties the Peking duck and the beggar's chicken, wrapped in sheets of lotus and cooked for a whole day on embers; the Cantonese and Chaozhou cooking privileges steamed dishes, boiled or fritted preparations and counts among their specialities the dim-sum, eggs of a thousand years (eggs dipped into horse urine), snake soup, dog stew, rat or owl; the food of Eastern China specialises in pork spareribs, seafood and soups; finally, the Sichuan cookery is said to count more than 4,000 dishes, of which the gonbao jiding, fried chicken with peanuts and hot pepper, mapo doufu, pork with soya yoghourt and onions, the guoba roupian, rice served with pork in its cooking juice.

Food-related taboos
Culinary taboos vary from one religion to another.

Last modified on December 2006

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