The basic facts about 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, China was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision-making. Output quadrupled by 2000. Political controls remain tight while economic controls continue to be relaxed.

Basic Facts  
Conventional long name: People´s Republic of China
Convertional short name: China
Chinese name: 中国
Abbreviation: PRC
  • Land
  • Water


9,596,960 sq km

9,326,410 sq km
270,550 sq km


Boundaries:      Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 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
Capital:  Beijing
Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
Highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (1999 est.)
Natural hazards: frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence
Population: 1,286,975,468 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:  
0 - 14 years old: 23.1% (male 155,473,656; female 141,737,406)
15 - 64 years old: 69.5% (male 461,223,219; female 433,154,970)
65 and over:   7.4% (male 44,954,643; female 50,431,574)                
Population Growth: 0,6%
Sex ration:  
at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15: 1.1 male(s)/female
15 - 64: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Life expectency:  
Total population 72.22 years
Male 70.33 years
Female 74.28 years (2003 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%
Religions: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Muslim 1%-2%, Christian 3%-4%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)
Language: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
Government type: Communist country
Administrative Divisions: 23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions* (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities** (shi, singular and plural); Anhui, Beijing**, Chongqing**, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi*, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol*, Ningxia*, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai**, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin**, Xinjiang*, Xizang* (Tibet), Yunnan, Zhejiang; note - China considers Taiwan its 23rd province, plus special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau
National Holiday: Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, 1 October (1949)
Executive branche  
President HU Jintao (since 15 March 2003)
Vice President ZENG Qinghong (since 15 March 2003)
Premier WEN Jiabao (since 16 March 2003)
Vice Premiers HUANG Ju (since 17 March 2003), WU Yi (17 March 2003), ZENG Peiyan (since 17 March 2003), and HUI Liangyu (since 17 March 2003)
International Organization Participation APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, CDB, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, MONUC, NAM (observer), OPCW, PCA, SCO, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, IFC, UNHCR, UNIDO, AfDB, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMOVIC, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Description: In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. In 2003, with its 1.3 billion people but a GDP of just $5,000 per capita, China stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US (measured on a purchasing power parity basis). The leadership, however, often has experienced - as a result of its hybrid system - the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (windfall gains and growing income disparities). The government has struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions.  Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution and soil erosion. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer internet use. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China's remarkable economic growth.
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,700 (2002 est.)
GDP growth: 8% (official data) (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 10% (2001 est.)
Inflation: -0.8% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate: urban unemployment roughly 10%; substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas (2002 est.)
Currency: yuan (CNY)
note:: also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)
Exchange rate: yuan per US dollar - 8.28 (2002)

Source: The CIA World Fact Book