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March 2010

Beijing, China, 1986

Beijing, China, 1986

The capital of China is Beijing; administrative divisions are made up of 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 4 municipalities. Beijing follows the China Standard Time zone. This is 8 hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+8) or 13 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. Despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone.

The terrain consists of mountains, deserts, and plateaus in the west; plains, deltas, and hills in the east. The climate is extremely diverse, from tropical in the south to subarctic in the north. Natural resources include coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, and the world’s largest hydropower potential. China’s natural hazards are frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts), damaging floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, and land subsidence.

On January 1, 1979, the Chinese Government officially adopted the pinyin system for spelling Chinese names and places in Roman letters. A system of Romanization invented by the Chinese, pinyin has long been widely used in China on street and commercial signs as well as in elementary Chinese textbooks as an aid in learning Chinese characters. The U.S. Government also has adopted the pinyin system for all names and places in China. For example, the capital of China is now spelled "Beijing" rather than "Peking."

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes; LC Country Studies, 03/2010, 10/2009, 05/2009

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