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May 2008



China, formally known as the People's Republic of China, is located in eastern Asia. It borders the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, South China Sea and shares borders with Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Vietnam. China is the world's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and the United States). Its capital city, Beijing, is in the northeastern part of China. Other major cities include: Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Harbin, and Chengdu.

The estimated population of China is 1,321,851,888 (July 2007). Ethnic groups in China include: Han, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uygur, Yi, Mongolian, Tibetan, Buyi, Korean, and other. The climate of China is extremely diverse, with tropical in the south and subarctic in the north. Its terrain consists of mostly mountains, high plateaus, and deserts in the west; plains, deltas, and hills in the east.

Natural hazards faced by China are frequent typoons (about five per year), damaging floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, and land subsidence. The natural resources of China include coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, aluminum, lead, zinc, and uranium.

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. After 1978, his 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.

In August 2008, Beijing will host the Summer Olympic Games.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 2008/05; 2008/04

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