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Main Cities Population
Shanghai   13,700,000  
Peking ( Beijing)   11,400,000  
Tianjin   9,600,000  
Shenyang   5,200,000  
Chengdu   4,500,000  
Canton   3,918,010  

Total population (millions): 1,296.5
Source: World Bank 2004

Urban population: 40%
Source: World Bank 2004

Average annual population growth: 0.6%
Source: World Bank 2004

Surface area (km²) : 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 %
Uyghurs 0.5 %
Dujias 0.4 %
Mongols Khalkhas 0.3 %
Dongs 0.2 %
Other 2.6 %

Local time

It is %T:%M %A in Beijing

GMT+8 in Pekin


Official language: Mandarin Chinese (with, unlike Taiwan, 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 in China :
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 system

People's republic, communist regime.
Capital: Beijing.
Head of State: President Hu Jintao, since March, 15 of 2003, elected for 5 years. Jiang Zemin, the former president is still chief of the army.



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 0?C, with a generally dry and sunny weather, but in the Northern part of the Great Wall or within Mongolia, temperatures can reach - 40?C. Over the summer, the temperature usually exceeds 35?C in Beijing, with numerous showers of rain. Spring and autumn are pleasant, with diurnal temperatures oscillating between 20 and 25?C 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 38?C) 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 47?C 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 2002 2003 2004 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 36803   32970   41761   4
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 archeological 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 travelers 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.

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