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May 23, 2005
Working in China
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Facts

Country Name

  • conventional long form: People's Republic of China
  • conventional short form: China
  • local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
  • local short form: Zhong Guo
  • abbreviation: PRC

Capital: Beijing

Government Type: Communist state

Population: 1,306,313,812 (July 2005 estimate)

Religion

  • Daoist (Taoist),
  • Buddhist
  • Muslim 1%-2%
  • Christian 3%-4%
  • Note: officially atheist (2002 est.)

Languages Spoken

  • Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect)
  • Yue (Cantonese)
  • Wu (Shanghaiese)
  • Minbei (Fuzhou)
  • Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese)
  • Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects
  • minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)

Currency: Chinese yuan or Renminbi yuan in Chinese

GDP: purchasing power parity - $7.262 trillion (2004 estimate)

 

China is one of the world's great civilizations, with a written history going back 3,500 years and a tradition of leading the world in the arts and sciences since ancient times. Today, after a tumultuous 20th century, China has the world's second largest GDP, and economic power has been disseminated. Also, China is home to 20 percent of the world's population.

 

China has experienced more than 20 years of unprecedented economic growth, during which the economy has grown faster than any other in history. China is among the world's largest producers of many agricultural products, including rice, potatoes, and sorghum. Other important industries in China include iron, steel, coal, armaments, and textiles. In the coming decade, the automobile and petrochemical industries are expected to grow rapidly.

 

History

 

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 that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. 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, yet political controls remain tight.

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