Information about China


The People's Republic of China commonly referred to as just China, is the second largest country in Asia and the fourth largest country in the world. It stretches over some 9,706,961 km², extending to the Pacific Ocean and sharing its borders with the Gobi desert and the Himalayas. The country’s major cities include Beijing, the capital city, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou and others. Plus, there are two special administrative regions: Hong Kong and Macau.

Demography and language

As of 1 January 2018, the population of China was estimated to be over 1.41 billion people.

It is still the most populated country in the world (followed closely by India), representing nearly a fifth of the global population. The country is officially composed of 56 ethnic groups: 55 minorities and the dominant Han ethnicity making up over 91% of the population. China's official language is Mandarin. However, several dialects are spoken throughout different regions with six dialect groups officially recognised (not including the standard Mandarin): Wu, Gan and Xiang in central China, and Min, Hakka, and Yue on the southeast coast. English learning is widespread with most children starting their English studies as early as primary school. The estimated number of Chinese nationals who speak English is 200 million, and English is increasingly used as the language of business communication.

China's expat population

China was closed to tourism from 1949 to 1974. But by the mid-1980s, over 250 of the country's cities became open to the international public. Today, China is one of the most popular destinations worldwide: in 2018 it ranked fourth in the list of the most visited countries in the world with a total of over 59.3 million visitors.

In the last decade, China has also emerged as one of the leading destinations for expats worldwide. Be it career and business opportunities, stunning geographical diversity, ancient treasures of the country's more than 5,000-year old history or more, the expat population in the country has been on a steady rise. In 2010, China's first national census that recorded the number of registered foreigners in the city put that number at around 600,000. In 2015, according to the Annual Report on Chinese International Migration, the number of legal foreign residents increased to 848,500. In 2017, the number of expats living in China was estimated at over 988,000.

Economy

China's economy is classified as a socialist market economy and is the world's second largest by nominal GDP (after the United States). It recorded a growth rate of 6.9% in the first quarter of 2017, fuelled by a substantial expansion in factories and the country remains the most significant contributor to global growth.

China is the world's largest manufacturing hub as well as the world's most prolific exporter. Industrial manufacturing remains the dominant sector: machine building, textiles and apparel, consumer electronics, food processing, transportation and more. The country is the world's largest exporter of textile, laptops, TVs, cameras, watches and toys.

The service sector is catching up quickly as the country is transitioning into a modern economy - it took half the share of the nation's GDP for the first time in 2015.

China is the birthplace of some of the world's biggest tech companies including Huawei, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, DJI, and others ' in fact, it is home to 9 of the world's 20 tech giants.

Technology, design and innovation are some of the country's most rapidly developing sectors. The country's young southern city of Shenzhen has been dubbed 'the world's Silicon Valley of hardware' after it has become the manufacturing base of American startups.

There is also a strong presence of large international companies in the country, accelerating its economic growth and providing job opportunities.

China possesses a lot of natural resources. Rare earth metals make the biggest contribution to the country's economy.

Major holidays in China

China celebrates several main holidays throughout the year, the most important being: Spring Festival (or Chinese New Year), Qingming (or Tomb Sweeping Day), Dragon Boat Day, Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day, and others. Note that most of these festivals are celebrated according to the Lunar calendar and their dates change slightly every year.

Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday of the year and is also the reason behind 'Chunyun', or Spring Festival travel season, which is the biggest annual migration in the world. During the Spring Festival, most big city residents will head back to their hometowns to spend the holiday with their families. When this happens in a country with the most people in the world, the strain on public transportation can get quite high. In fact, it is estimated that around 2.99 billion trips were made during 'Chunyun' in 2019 alone.

Good to know:

Note that it is generally not recommended to travel during the Spring Festival as major transportation hubs including airports and train stations can be overcrowded. Keep in mind that ticket prices also have the tendency of increasing during this time and there can also be a shortage of tickets (especially intra-China train tickets). If you do choose to travel during the Spring Festival, make sure to get your tickets way in advance.

Spring Festival celebrations usually take around two weeks, and the majority of the local businesses will be closed during this period.

Politics

The People's Republic of China is governed by three main bodies: the Communist Party, the State, and the Chinese Army. Power is centralised in Beijing through its administrative agencies and other public institutions. Xi Jinping is the President of the People's Republic of China, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party while Li Keqiang is the Prime Minister of the Council of State Affairs.

Climate

China's large size means that it has a vast diversity of climates.

The north is characterised by hot and dry summers (26°C /79°F) and harsh cold winters, temperatures falling as low as - 20°C (-4°F). The central area stretching along the Yangtze River has long and humid summers and rather cold winters. Southern China, on the other hand, enjoys long hot summers and short mild winters. Central, southern and western parts of the country are prone to flooding, and there is minor periodic seismic activity in the region.

The best time to visit China is early autumn and spring, specifically during the months of September, October, March or April when the temperatures are pleasant, and the rainfall is at its lowest.

Important:

The northwest of China is prone to bouts of extreme air pollution. Make sure to check AQI (air quality index) before your travels.

Useful links:

The State Council of the People's Republic of China
National Bureau of Statistics in China
AQI Air Quality app
Chinese Holiday Calendar
Trip ticket booking in China