| THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA is the third largest country in the world in terms of area and the largest in terms of population. Its total area is 9.6 million square kilometers and its population is 1.2 billion. China has shared borders for centuries with Korea, the formerly Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Skim, Bhutan, Burma, Laos and Vietnam.
Under the central government there are 23 provinces, five autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Guangxi and Tibet, and four cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing . China's topography varies from mountainous regions with towering peaks to flat, featureless plains. The land surface, like staircase, descends from west to east. Melting snow from the mountains of western China and the Tibet - Qinghai Plateau provides the headwaters for many of the country's largest rivers: such as the Yangtze and the Yellow. Across the mountains on the eastern edge are the plains of the Yangtze River Valley and northern and eastern China. These plains, the homeland of the Han Chinese and known as "Middle Kingdom'' or zhongguo, are the most important agricultural areas and the most heavily populated.
Climate conditions ranging from tropical, subtropical, the temperate and cool-temperate vary greatly over China's vast land area, but the most part of the country lies in temperate zone. It is warm and wet with seasonal circulation of winds. The winter season in the North is bitingly cold and dust-laden. Summers in central China are long, hot and humid, but the southern and southeastern China is more humid.
China is also noted for its culture of rich color. Traditional religions are Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Islam and Christianity were brought to China in about 7th century. Art, like religion, has developed over a period of more than 2,000 years. Calligraphy and painting are two of the most revered areas. Ancient buildings like temples, pagodas, palaces, monasteries, long walls, corridors and wealth of antiquities and cultural relics are world-known. The Great Wall, the terra-cotta warriors and horses in Xi'an, the Longmen Cave in Henan, and the super Buddhist art on view in the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang are the most attractive views for foreign tourists. China, with its fascinating scenes of natural beauty such as Guilin, Up and Down of the Yangtze River, Lushan and many others have a lot to offer to foreign visitors.
China is a country accommodating 56 nationalities. Among them, Han nationality is the largest one, taking around 85 percent of China's whole 1.3 billion people, so the other 55 nationalities are always called as minority nationalities, or minorities.
Most of Han nationalities live at central and eastern parts of China, while other nationalities lives at border areas. As a member of the country, there are Hans at minority area, while many people of minority nationalities also live at Han area. Xinjiang Urgur Autonomous Region and Tibet are the two largest minority-inhabiting areas, while Ningxia Hui Nationality (Muslim) Region, Guangxi Zhuang Nationality Region are also quite important in China.