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China Country Guide

Explore China in Asia

China with the capital city Beijing is located in Asia (Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea). It covers some 9,596,960 square kilometres (slightly smaller than the US) with 1,330,044,000 citizens.

Interactive map of China

The terrain features mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west with plains, deltas, and hills in east. The average density of population is approximately 139 per km². The notable climate conditions in China can be described as extremely diverse with tropical in south to subarctic in north. Potential natural disasters are frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts) or damaging floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts or land subsidence.

To reach someone in China dial +86 prior to a number. There are 313,680,000 installed telephones. And there are 747,000,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900/1800 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".cn". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of China

China Flag Icon

Red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner; the color red represents revolution, while the stars symbolize the four social classes - the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists) - united under the Communist Party of China.

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.

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Asia
Neighbours: Laos, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, India
Capital: Beijing
Size9,596,960 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 3,705,406 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than the US
CurrencyName Yuan Renminbi, Currency Code:CNY
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).cn
Telephone Country Prefix+86
Mobile Phone Connections747,000,000
Landline Phone Connections313,680,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area9,596,961 (sq km)4

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population1,349,585,838 1
Population growth rate0.46 (%)154
Birth rate12.25 (births/1,000 population)161
Death rate7.31 (deaths/1,000 population)120
Net migration rate-0.33 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)126
Maternal mortality rate37.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)116
Infant mortality rate15.20 (deaths/1,000 live births)110
Life expectancy at birth74.99 (years)100
Total fertility rate1.55 (children born/woman)184
Health expenditures5.10 (% of GDP)138
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.10 (%)121
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS740,000 13
HIV/AIDS - deaths26,000 14
Obesity - adult prevalence rate5.70 (%)152
Children under the age of 5 years underweight3.40 (%)107


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)12,610,000,000,000 3
GDP - real growth rate7.80 (%)20
GDP - per capita (PPP)9,300 124
Labor force795,400,000 1
Unemployment rate6.40 (%)66
Distribution of family income - Gini index47.40 29
Investment (gross fixed)47.80 (% of GDP)2
Taxes and other revenues22.70 (% of GDP)136
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-1.60 (% of GDP)77
Public debt31.70 (% of GDP)110
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.60 (%)59
Central bank discount rate2.25 (%)109
Commercial bank prime lending rate6.56 (%)134
Stock of narrow money4,910,000,000,000 3
Stock of broad money15,490,000,000,000 1
Stock of domestic credit12,590,000,000,000 4
Market value of publicly traded shares3,408,000,000,000 4
Industrial production growth rate7.90 (%)28
Current account balance213,800,000,000 1
Exports2,050,000,000,000 2
Imports1,817,000,000,000 3
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold3,312,000,000,000 1
Debt - external770,800,000,000 20
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home1,344,000,000,000 2
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad502,000,000,000 13


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production4,940,000,000,000 (kWh)2
Electricity - consumption4,693,000,000,000 (kWh)2
Electricity - exports17,650,000,000 (kWh)10
Electricity - imports6,874,000,000 (kWh)33
Electricity - installed generating capacity1,146,000,000 (kW)2
Electricity - from fossil fuels69.50 (% of total installed capacity)109
Electricity - from nuclear fuels1.10 (% of total installed capacity)32
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants21.80 (% of total installed capacity)87
Electricity - from other renewable sources7.60 (% of total installed capacity)26
Crude oil - production4,150,000 (bbl/day)6
Crude oil - exports48,700 (bbl/day)46
Crude oil - imports5,422,000 (bbl/day)3
Crude oil - proved reserves14,800,000,000 (bbl)17
Refined petroleum products - production8,992,000 (bbl/day)4
Refined petroleum products - consumption9,790,000 (bbl/day)4
Refined petroleum products - exports623,000 (bbl/day)13
Refined petroleum products - imports1,571,000 (bbl/day)4
Natural gas - production107,700,000,000 (cu m)8
Natural gas - consumption147,100,000,000 (cu m)5
Natural gas - exports3,210,000,000 (cu m)34
Natural gas - imports42,500,000,000 (cu m)11
Natural gas - proved reserves3,200,000,000,000 (cu m)13
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy8,321,000,000 (Mt)2


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use285,115,000 1
Telephones - mobile cellular986,253,000 1
Internet hosts20,602,000 5
Internet users389,000,000 1


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports497 14
Railways86,000 (km)3
Roadways4,106,387 (km)2
Waterways110,000 (km)1
Merchant marine2,030 3


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures2.60 (% of GDP)53

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains
The palaces and temples which form the nucleus of this group of secular and religious buildings exemplify the architectural and artistic achievements of China's Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Situated in the scenic valleys and on the slopes of the Wu ...
Ancient City of Ping Yao
Ping Yao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China over five centuries. Of special inter ...
Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun
The two traditional villages of Xidi and Hongcun preserve to a remarkable extent the appearance of non-urban settlements of a type that largely disappeared or was transformed during the last century. Their street plan, their architecture and decorati ...
Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles. All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of n ...
Chengjiang Fossil Site
A hilly 512 ha site in Yunnan province, Chengjiang’s fossils present the most complete record of an early Cambrian marine community with exceptionally preserved biota, displaying the anatomy of hard and soft tissues in a very wide variety of organism ...
China Danxia
China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). The inscribed site comprises s ...
Classical Gardens of Suzhou
Classical Chinese garden design, which seeks to recreate natural landscapes in miniature, is nowhere better illustrated than in the nine gardens in the historic city of Suzhou. They are generally acknowledged to be masterpieces of the genre. Dating f ...
Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces
The Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China covers 16,603-hectares in Southern Yunnan. It is marked by spectacular terraces that cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River. Over the past 1,30 ...
Dazu Rock Carvings
The steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the ...
Fujian Tulou
Fujian Tulou is a property of 46 buildings constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries over 120 km in south-west of Fujian province, inland from the Taiwan Strait. Set amongst rice, tea and tobacco fields the Tulou are earthen houses. Several sto ...
Historic Centre of Macao
Macao, a lucrative port of strategic importance in the development of international trade, was under Portuguese administration from the mid-16th century until 1999, when it came under Chinese sovereignty. With its historic street, residential, religi ...
Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, i ...
Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”
Mount Songshang is considered to be the central sacred mountain of China. At the foot of this 1500 metre high mountain, close to the city of Dengfeng in Henan province and spread over a 40 square-kilometre circle, stand eight clusters of buildings an ...
Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area
Situated in the north-west of Sichaun Province, the Huanglong valley is made up of snow-capped peaks and the easternmost of all the Chinese glaciers. In addition to its mountain landscape, diverse forest ecosystems can be found, as well as spectacula ...
Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang
Seat of supreme power for over five centuries (1416-1911), the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its landscaped gardens and many buildings (whose nearly 10,000 rooms contain furniture and works of art), constitutes a priceless testimony to Chinese civi ...
Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
It represents the addition of three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning to the Ming tombs inscribed in 2000 and 2003. The Three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning Province include the Yongling Tomb, the Fuling Tomb, and the Zha ...
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
Stretching over 72,000 ha in the northern part of Sichuan Province, the jagged Jiuzhaigou valley reaches a height of more than 4,800 m, thus comprising a series of diverse forest ecosystems. Its superb landscapes are particularly interesting for thei ...
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages feature the Diaolou, multi-storeyed defensive village houses in Kaiping, which display a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms. They reflect the significant role of émigré Ka ...
Longmen Grottoes
The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese st ...
Lushan National Park
Mount Lushan, in Jiangxi, is one of the spiritual centres of Chinese civilization. Buddhist and Taoist temples, along with landmarks of Confucianism, where the most eminent masters taught, blend effortlessly into a strikingly beautiful landscape whic ...
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
No doubt thousands of statues still remain to be unearthed at this archaeological site, which was not discovered until 1974. Qin (d. 210 B.C.), the first unifier of China, is buried, surrounded by the famous terracotta warriors, at the centre of a co ...
Mogao Caves
Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 yea ...
Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area
The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Over the centuri ...
Mount Huangshan
Huangshan, known as 'the loveliest mountain of China', was acclaimed through art and literature during a good part of Chinese history (e.g. the Shanshui 'mountain and water' style of the mid-16th century). Today it holds the same fascination for visi ...
Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Construction of the Dujiangyan irrigation system began in the 3rd century B.C. This system still controls the waters of the Minjiang River and distributes it to the fertile farmland of the Chengdu plains. Mount Qingcheng was the birthplace of Taoism, ...
Mount Sanqingshan National Park
Mount Sanqingshan National Park, a 22,950 ha property located in the west of the Huyaiyu mountain range in the northeast of Jiangxi Province (in the east of central China) has been inscribed for its exceptional scenic quality, marked by the concentra ...
Mount Taishan
The sacred Mount Tai ('shan' means 'mountain') was the object of an imperial cult for nearly 2,000 years, and the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chin ...
Mount Wutai
With its five flat peaks, Mount Wutai is a sacred Buddhist mountain. The cultural landscape is home to forty-one monasteries and includes the East Main Hall of Foguang Temple, the highest surviving timber building of the Tang dynasty, with life-size ...
Mount Wuyi
Mount Wuyi is the most outstanding area for biodiversity conservation in south-east China and a refuge for a large number of ancient, relict species, many of them endemic to China. The serene beauty of the dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River, with ...
Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde
The Mountain Resort (the Qing dynasty's summer palace), in Hebei Province, was built between 1703 and 1792. It is a vast complex of palaces and administrative and ceremonial buildings. Temples of various architectural styles and imperial gardens blen ...
Old Town of Lijiang
The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity. Its architecture is noteworthy for the blending of elements fr ...
Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian
Scientific work at the site, which lies 42 km south-west of Beijing, is still underway. So far, it has led to the discovery of the remains of Sinanthropus pekinensis, who lived in the Middle Pleistocene, along with various objects, and remains of Hom ...
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to more than 30% of the world's pandas which are classed as highly endangered, covers 924,500 ha with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute t ...
Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor
This property is a 5,000 km section of the extensive Silk Roads network, stretching from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China in the Han and Tang dynasties, to the Zhetysu region of Central Asia. It took shape between the 2nd century BC and ...
Site of Xanadu
North of the Great Wall, the Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256. Over a surface area of 25,000 ha, the site was a unique attempt to ass ...
South China Karst
This is an extension of the South China Karst site. The property was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007 and is one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. The extension covers an area of a ...
Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing
The Summer Palace in Beijing – first built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886 – is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined ...
Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu
The temple, cemetery and family mansion of Confucius, the great philosopher, politician and educator of the 6th–5th centuries B.C., are located at Qufu, in Shandong Province. Built to commemorate him in 478 B.C., the temple has been destroyed and rec ...
Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the rel ...
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is a vast waterway system in the north-eastern and central-eastern plains of China, running from Beijing in the north to Zhejiang province in the south. Constructed in sections from the 5th century BC onwards, it was conceived as a un ...
The Great Wall
In c. 220 B.C., under Qin Shi Huang, sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a united defence system against invasions from the north. Construction continued up to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when the Great Wall became the w ...
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
Consisting of eight geographical clusters of protected areas within the boundaries of the Three Parallel Rivers National Park, in the mountainous north-west of Yunnan Province, the 1.7 million hectare site features sections of the upper reaches of th ...
West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou
The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and or ...
Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area
A spectacular area stretching over more than 26,000 ha in China's Hunan Province, the site is dominated by more than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks, many over 200 m high. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and wate ...
Xinjiang Tianshan
Xinjiang Tianshan comprises four components—Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda— that total 606,833 hectares. They are part of the Tianshan mountain system of Central Asia, one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. Xinjiang Tiansh ...
Yin Xu
The archaeological site of Yin Xu, close to Anyang City, some 500 km south of Beijing, is an ancient capital city of the late Shang Dynasty (1300 - 1046 BC). It testifies to the golden age of early Chinese culture, crafts and sciences, a time of grea ...
Yungang Grottoes
The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict uni ...