China is a sovereign state in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a single-party state governed by the Chinese Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims the territories governed by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity today commonly known as Taiwan, as a part of its territory, which includes the island of Taiwan as Taiwan Province, Kinmen and Matsu as a part of Fujian Province and islands the ROC controls in the South China Sea as a part of Hainan Province. These claims are controversial because of the complex political status of Taiwan.
China had the largest and most complex economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies. As of 2014, it is the world’s second-largest economy by nominal total GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods.
The Chinese year is based on the cycles of the moon. This is called a lunar schedule. A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years. The Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the oldest known calendar.
With a population of more than 12 million people, Beijing, also called “Jing” is a bustling metropolis that is the capital city of China. The city is arguably one of the most historical and cultural cities and ancient capitals in the world. As the country’s political, cultural and international exchange center, Beijing hosted the Olympic Games in 2008. Beijing offers visitors a bevy of more than 200 tourist attractions and 7,300 historical sites. The immensely popular Great Wall at Badaling, Palace Museum, Temple of Heaven, which is the largest imperial palace in the world where emperors of old paid homage to heaven, the Summer Palace, are some of Beijing’s must-sees. At dusk, a plethora of live entertainment, including Chinese operas, acrobatics and traditional dining options are to be sampled.
Shanghai or “Hu” for short, is a renowned international metropolis located on the estuary of Yangtze River, and serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. Additionally, it is a popular destination for visitors to experience the pulse of China. The city’s modern, multicultural flair, endows it with a unique glamour. Shanghai has a perfect blend of cultures: modern and traditional; western and oriental. New skyscrapers, along with old Shikumen, together create the skyline of the city. Western customs and Chinese traditions intertwine to form Shanghai’s culture, making visitors’ stay in the city truly memorable.
Were China a tree, Beijing would be the crown, while Xian would be its deep roots. As a saying goes: “Go to Shanghai and you will find a 100-year-old China; go to Beijing and you will find a 1000-year-old China; go to Xian and then you will find a 3000-year-old China.” Xian, the cradle of China, is, by any means, on your China travel list. The Terracotta Army or the “Terracotta Warriors and Horses” is a collection of terracotta sculptures, depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
Tibet, known as ‘the Roof of the World’, is a jewel in the Himalayas and a place filled with hope and secrets. Its wild and overwhelming landscape will cause you to be weak in the knees. The big smile of Tibetan people will warm your heart, while their strong spiritual faith will touch your soul; the splendid and mysterious Tibetan culture will astound you. Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia, northeast of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people, as well as some other ethnic groups, such as Monpa, Qiang and Lhoba peoples, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft.). Tibetan history, as it has been recorded, is particularly focused on the history of Buddhism in Tibet. This is partly due to the pivotal role this religion has played in the development of Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu cultures, and partly because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks. The current Dalai Lama is Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, who fled from Tibet in 1959 and came to Dharamshala, India.