China is the world’s most populous country. About a third of the population lives in cities. The rest of the people live in the country. Stretching 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) from east to west and 3,400 miles (5,500 kilometers) from north to south, China is slightly smaller than the United States in size with widely varying landscapes. Its territory includes mountains, high plateaus, sandy deserts, and dense forests.
The capital of China is Beijing. Other important cities include Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is the official language but there are thousands of dialects spoken.
China is the home of one of the world's oldest civilizations. The Chinese name for the country is "Zhong Guo", which means the "Middle Kingdom". Since ancient times, it was believed that China was at the center of the universe.
Much of China's modern beliefs and philosophies are based on the teachings of a government official who lived nearly 3,000 years ago. Kongfuzi, also known as Confucius, taught people the value of such things as morality, kindness, and education. The most widely practiced religions are Buddhism and Taoism.
- A male heir has traditionally been very important in China.
- The People’s Republic of China has a nationwide system of public education. Primary schools, lower and upper middle schools, and universities are all part of the mix. Nine years of schooling are compulsory.
- Most schools in China run from about 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including a two-hour break for lunch.
- Uniforms are typically required.
- Besides subjects such as language and math, schools teach moral education-values and attitudes that are believed to be important for all citizens.
- Soccer and basketball are popular, as is ping-pong,
- Personal proximics, the distance people maintain in everyday interactions, is much closer than in the west.
- National Day celebrates the 1949 founding of the People's Republic of China with ceremonial flag-raisings, streets decked with paper flowers and colored lights and lavish displays of fireworks. The weeklong holiday begins October 1.