9,571,300 sq km (3,695,500 sq miles).
1,353,821,000 (2012). Roughly a quarter of the world’s population lives in China.
130.4 per sq km.
Beijing (Peking). Population: 66,720,153 (2011). The largest city in the country, Shanghai, has a population of over 14 million and, as at 1990, 39 other cities have a population of over one million.
China is bounded to the north by Russia and Mongolia; to the east by North Korea, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea; to the south by Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Nepal; and to the west by India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. China has a varied terrain ranging from high plateaux in the west to flatlands in the east; mountains take up almost one-third of the land. The most notable high mountain ranges are the Himalayas, the Altai Mountains, the Tien Shan Mountains and the Kunlun Mountains. On the border with Nepal is the 8848m-high (29,198ft) Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest). In the west is the Qinghai/Tibet Plateau, with an average elevation of 4000m (13,200ft), known as ‘the Roof of the World’. At the base of the Tien Shan Mountains is the Turpan Depression or Basin, China’s lowest area, 154m (508ft) below sea level at the lowest point. China has many great river systems, notably the Yellow (Huang He) and Yangtze Kiang (Chang Jiang). Only 10% of all China is suitable for agriculture.
The official language is Mandarin Chinese. Among the enormous number of local dialects, in the south, large groups speak Cantonese, Fukienese, Xiamenhua and Hakka. Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang, which are autonomous regions, have their own languages. Translation and interpreter services are good. English is spoken by many guides.
The principal religions and philosophies are Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. There are 100 million Buddhists and approximately 60 million Muslims, five million Protestants (including large numbers of Evangelicals) and four million Roman Catholics, largely independent of Vatican control.
GMT + 8. Despite the vast size of the country, Beijing time is standard throughout China.
220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin sockets and some three-pin sockets are in use.