Sunday, April 30, 2017

People's Republic of China

In October is our long-awaited trip back to Asia.  After last year's visit to Hong Hong and Macau we wanted to check out China.  Pretty much everyone needs a tourist visa to visit China and for Americans it costs $140.  However, if you're only stopping through Beijing on your way to another country then you can visit the city for up to 72 hours visa free.  The plan is to spend three days in Beijing and then it's on to South Korea.  So here's a bit about China.  

The People's Republic of China中华人民共和国, was established in 1949 as a communist state after more than two decades of civil and international wars.

China is the largest country in Asia and the fourth-largest in the world after Russia, Canada, and the USA.  It borders Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Vietnam, plus the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Geographically China covers five time zones but the entire country is on China Standard Time which is GMT+8.

China is slightly smaller than the USA (counting Alaska and Hawaii).  With over 1,379 billion people it is the world's most populous country.  Beijing is the capital city and Shanghai with more than 23,7 million people is the largest city.

China is home to one of the world's earliest civilisations.  China was traditionally ruled by dynasties which were basically hereditary monarchies.  The last dynasty was replaced by a republic in 1912.  There was a civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists that was interrupted by WW2.  However, it continued after the war until the Communists took the mainland in 1949 and the Nationalists fled to Taiwan.  Here's a short 3-minute video I found out on YouTube about the Chinese Civil War.

In 1978, economic liberalisation began and has given China one of the world's fastest-growing economies.  It is the world's largest exporter and the second-largest importer of goods.  China is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.  It also has the world's largest standing army.  Here's a video about how powerful the country is.

©Test Tube News

The official name of China's currency is Renminbi which translates to "the people's currency".  A unit of Renminbi is the Yuan (¥).
China is a huge country and it is home to around 290 languages.  The Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese is the official language.  About 70% of the country's Chinese speakers speak Mandarin. The written characters have been used for thousands of years.  Even if people speak two different versions of Chinese, and can't understand each other, they can still communicate and be understood through writing.  Traditional characters are still used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and overseas Chinese communities.  Simplified characters were introduced by the government in 1956 to replace the traditional ones.
In 1979, China implemented its one child policy in order to deal with its growing population.  In order to address the country's now rapidly ageing population and economic needs, as off 2016, couples are now allowed to have two children.
China has recently been building new islands in the South China Sea for military bases which are causing territorial disputes with neighbouring countries.  Here's a bit more detail about it.


China and Czechland have pretty good relations.  The presidents of each country have visited the other over the past couple of years and there's a strategic partnership agreement in place.  Here's a bit more about the economic relationship.


Plus there's the Great Wall of China which is probably the best known symbol of the country.  No visit to China will be complete without a stroll along the wall.

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