Each year China welcomes thousands of English-speaking students, teachers, scientists, artists, business men and women, and tourists who come to China to study, teach, perform, exchange ideas, engage in trade and business or just to sightsee.
The following offers a fast and ready reference of basic China facts as a guide for visitors and others.
Formal name: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Head of State: President Hu Jintao elected March 15, 2003
National flag: Red flag with five stars
National emblem: Tiananmen Gate Tower under five stars, encircled by ears of grain and with a gear wheel below.
Animal: The giant panda is considered a Chinese national treasure. Just over 1,000 survive in the wild, most of them to be found in Sichuan Province.
Flower: China does not have an “official” national flower, but the tree peony can be regarded as a national favorite. The tree peony (mudan) received the most votes in an unofficial survey conducted in 1994 in every district in China asking people to select a national flower.
Bird: More bird species live in China than any other place in the world. Shaanxi Province’s red ibis is also a national treasure. Only some 1,500 of this highly endangered bird species exist. Other cranes found in China include the Siberian white, common, black-necked, sarus, hooded, white-naped, and demoiselle.
Tree: The oldest tree in the world is China’s gingko, which first appeared during the Jurassic Age some 160 million years ago.
National anthem: March of the Volunteers, written in 1935, with lyrics by the poet Tian Han and music by the composer Nie Er, honoring those who went to the front to fight the Japanese invaders in northeast China in the 1930s. Decided upon as the provisional national anthem of the new China on September 27, 1949, at the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the song was officially adopted as the national anthem of the PRC on December 4, 1982, by the National People’s Congress (NPC).
National Day: Chinese celebrate October 1 as National Day in honor of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Other national holidays: Spring Festival (the celebration of Chinese New Year, generally between the last 10-day period of January and mid-February) and International Labor Day (May 1). Major holidays in China are occasions for family reunions and traveling. Starting in October 1999, China’s three official holidays became “Golden Weeks” each with seven days vacation made possible by working four extra days before the commencement of the holiday and afterwards.
Land size: China has a landmass of 9,600,000 sq km, and is the third-largest country in the world, next only to Russia and Canada. Cultivated land is 130.04 million ha.
Location: In the east of the Asian continent, on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Border countries: Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
Climate: Extremely diverse; tropical in the south to subarctic in the north.