The third-largest country in the world, with the largest world’s population, China is bounded to the north by the deserts of Mongolia, to the west by the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas, and to the east by the East and South China seas. China’s 22 provinces and five autonomous regions are governed from Beijing, along with some 5,000 islands. China is a country of great contrasts, with picturesque rural landscapes and congested cityscapes, and natural beauty that ranges from the untamed to the idyllic – from the windswept plains of the Gobi Desert and Mt Everest’s notorious northern face to Yangshuo’s gorgeous karsts scenery. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China’s remarkable economic growth.

Area: 9.59 million sq km
Population: 1.28 billion
Capital: Beijing
People: Han Chinese (93%), plus 55 ethnic minorities
Language: Chinese
Religion: Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism (no stats available); Muslim (14 million), Christian (7 million)
Government: Communist Republic
GDP: US$4.5 trillion
Major Industries: Iron, steel, coal, machinery, automobiles, petroleum, chemicals, telecommunications, and textiles
Major Trading Partners: USA, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan

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