Coordinates: 35°N 103°E / 35°N 103°E / 35; 103
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People's Republic of China
中华人民共和国 (Chinese)
Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó (Pinyin)
Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ
Territory controlled by the People's Republic of China is shown in dark green; territory claimed but not controlled is shown in light green.
Territory controlled by the People's Republic of China is shown in dark green;
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Xi Jinping
• Premier
Li Qiang
Zhao Leji
Wang Huning
LegislatureNational People's Congress
c. 2070 BCE
221 BCE
1 January 1912
1 October 1949
20 September 1954
4 December 1982
20 December 1999

China (

financial center is Shanghai

Modern China traces its origins to a

Manchu-led Qing dynasty affirmed its control further and established the basis for the modern Chinese nation, although subsequently suffered significant losses to European imperialism
in the 19th century.


the sole legitimate government, the United Nations has recognized the PRC of that status since 1971. From 1959 to 1961, the Great Leap Forward resulted in a sharp economic decline and massive famine. From 1966 to 1976, the Cultural Revolution led to greater political instability, economic and educational decline. With a change in the leadership, a series of political and economic reforms
begun in 1978 has improved the economy and standards of living.

China is a



China (today's Guangdong), Mangi (inland of Xanton), and Cataio (inland of China and Chequan, and including the capital Cambalu, Xandu, and a marble bridge) are all shown as separate regions on this 1570 map by Abraham Ortelius

The word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century; however, it was not a word used by the Chinese themselves during this period. Its origin has been traced through

Laws of Manu (2nd century BCE).[23] In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived ultimately from the name of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE).[24][23] Although usage in Indian sources precedes this dynasty, this derivation is still given in various sources.[25] The origin of the Sanskrit word is a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.[17]

Alternative suggestions include the names for Yelang and the Jing or Chu state.[23][26] The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China" (

ROC from the PRC.[32][33][34][35]



10,000-year-old pottery, Xianren Cave
culture (18000–7000 BCE)

China is regarded as one of the world's oldest civilisations.[36][37] Archaeological evidence suggests that early hominids inhabited the country 2.25 million years ago.[38] The hominid fossils of Peking Man, a Homo erectus who used fire,[39] were discovered in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing; they have been dated to between 680,000 and 780,000 years ago.[40] The fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens (dated to 125,000–80,000 years ago) have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Dao County, Hunan.[41] Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 6600 BCE,[42] at Damaidi around 6000 BCE,[43] Dadiwan from 5800 to 5400 BCE, and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BCE. Some scholars have suggested that the Jiahu symbols (7th millennium BCE) constituted the earliest Chinese writing system.[42]

Early dynastic rule

Yinxu, the ruins of the capital of the late Shang dynasty
(14th century BCE)

According to Chinese tradition, the

first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BCE.[44] The Xia dynasty marked the beginning of China's political system based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, which lasted for a millennium.[45] The Xia dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959.[46] It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period.[47] The succeeding Shang dynasty is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records.[48] The Shang ruled the plain of the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE.[49] Their oracle bone script (from c. 1500 BCE)[50][51] represents the oldest form of Chinese writing yet found[52] and is a direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters.[53]

The Shang was conquered by the Zhou, who ruled between the 11th and 5th centuries BCE, though centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Some principalities eventually emerged from the weakened Zhou, no longer fully obeyed the Zhou king, and continually waged war with each other during the 300-year Spring and Autumn period. By the time of the Warring States period of the 5th–3rd centuries BCE, there were only seven powerful states left.[54]

Imperial China

Warring States' walls to form the Great Wall of China. Most of the present structure, however, dates to the Ming dynasty

The Warring States period ended in 221 BCE after the

conquered the Yue tribes in Guangxi, Guangdong, and Vietnam.[55] The Qin dynasty lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after the First Emperor's death, as his harsh authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.[56][57]

Following a

Yunnan, and the recovery of Guangdong and northern Vietnam from Nanyue. Han involvement in Central Asia and Sogdia helped establish the land route of the Silk Road, replacing the earlier path over the Himalayas to India. Han China gradually became the largest economy of the ancient world.[59] Despite the Han's initial decentralization and the official abandonment of the Qin philosophy of Legalism in favor of Confucianism, Qin's legalist institutions and policies continued to be employed by the Han government and its successors.[60]

Map showing the expansion of Han dynasty
in the 2nd century BC

After the

Buddhism. However, they fell quickly when their conscription for public works and a failed war in northern Korea provoked widespread unrest.[62][63]

Under the succeeding

Khitan Liao. The Song was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy which was supported by the developed shipbuilding industry along with the sea trade.[68]

The Tang dynasty at its greatest extent and Tang's protectorates

Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size to around 100 million people, mostly because of the expansion of rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses. The Song dynasty also saw a

Bianjing were captured during the Jin–Song Wars. The remnants of the Song retreated to southern China.[72]

The Mongol conquest of China began in 1205 with the gradual conquest of Western Xia by Genghis Khan,[73] who also invaded Jin territories.[74] In 1271, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty, which conquered the last remnant of the Song dynasty in 1279. Before the Mongol invasion, the population of Song China was 120 million citizens; this was reduced to 60 million by the time of the census in 1300.[75] A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang led a rebellion that overthrew the Yuan in 1368 and founded the Ming dynasty as the Hongwu Emperor. Under the Ming dynasty, China enjoyed another golden age, developing one of the strongest navies in the world and a rich and prosperous economy amid a flourishing of art and culture. It was during this period that admiral Zheng He led the Ming treasure voyages throughout the Indian Ocean, reaching as far as East Africa.[76]

Qing conquest of the Ming
and expansion of the empire

In the early years of the Ming dynasty, China's capital was moved from

Manchu invasions led to an exhausted treasury.[78] In 1644, Beijing was captured by a coalition of peasant rebel forces led by Li Zicheng. The Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide when the city fell. The Manchu Qing dynasty, then allied with Ming dynasty general Wu Sangui, overthrew Li's short-lived Shun dynasty and subsequently seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing dynasty.[79]

The Qing dynasty, which lasted from 1644 until 1912, was the last imperial dynasty of China. Its conquest of the Ming (1618–1683) cost 25 million lives and the economy of China shrank drastically.[80] After the Southern Ming ended, the further conquest of the Dzungar Khanate added Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang to the empire.[81] The centralized autocracy was strengthened to suppress anti-Qing sentiment with the policy of valuing agriculture and restraining commerce, the Haijin ("sea ban"), and ideological control as represented by the literary inquisition, causing social and technological stagnation.[82][83]

Fall of the Qing dynasty

The Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China to defeat the anti-foreign Boxers and their Qing backers. The image shows a celebration ceremony inside the Chinese imperial palace, the Forbidden City after the signing of the Boxer Protocol
in 1901.

In the mid-19th century, the Qing dynasty experienced Western imperialism in the

The Qing dynasty also began experiencing internal unrest in which tens of millions of people died, especially in the White Lotus Rebellion, the failed Taiping Rebellion that ravaged southern China in the 1850s and 1860s and the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) in the northwest. The initial success of the Self-Strengthening Movement of the 1860s was frustrated by a series of military defeats in the 1880s and 1890s.[86]

In the 19th century, the great

Xinhai Revolution of 1911–1912 brought an end to the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China.[88] Puyi, the last Emperor of China, abdicated in 1912.[89]

Establishment of the Republic and World War II

On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established, and Sun Yat-sen of the Kuomintang (the KMT or Nationalist Party) was proclaimed provisional president.[90] On 12 February 1912, regent Empress Dowager Longyu sealed the imperial abdication decree on behalf of 4 year old Puyi, the last emperor of China, ending 5,000 years of monarchy in China.[91] In March 1912, the presidency was given to Yuan Shikai, a former Qing general who in 1915 proclaimed himself Emperor of China. In the face of popular condemnation and opposition from his own Beiyang Army, he was forced to abdicate and re-establish the republic in 1916.[92]

After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, China was politically fragmented. Its Beijing-based government was internationally recognized but virtually powerless; regional warlords controlled most of its territory.

Imperial Japan.[99]

Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong toasting together in 1945 following the end of World War II


Pescadores, was handed over to Chinese control. However, the validity of this handover is controversial, in that whether Taiwan's sovereignty was legally transferred and whether China is a legitimate recipient, due to complex issues that arose from the handling of Japan's surrender, resulting in the unresolved political status of Taiwan, which is a flashpoint of potential war between China and Taiwan. China emerged victorious but war-ravaged and financially drained. The continued distrust between the Kuomintang and the Communists led to the resumption of civil war. Constitutional rule was established in 1947, but because of the ongoing unrest, many provisions of the ROC constitution were never implemented in mainland China.[107]

Civil War and the People's Republic

Before the existence of the People's Republic, the CCP had declared

, and their surrounding islands.

The founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China was held at 3:00 pm on October 1, 1949. The picture above shows Mao Zedong's announcement of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Tiananmen Square.[109]

On 1 October 1949,

captured Hainan from the ROC[112] and annexed Tibet.[113] However, remaining Kuomintang forces continued to wage an insurgency in western China throughout the 1950s.[114]

The government consolidated its popularity among the peasants through land reform, which included the execution of between 1 and 2 million landlords.[115] China developed an independent industrial system and its own nuclear weapons.[116] The Chinese population increased from 550 million in 1950 to 900 million in 1974.[117] However, the Great Leap Forward, an idealistic massive reform project, resulted in an estimated 15 to 55 million deaths between 1959 and 1961, mostly from starvation.[118][119] In 1964, China's first atomic bomb exploded successfully.[120] In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a decade of political recrimination and social upheaval that lasted until Mao's death in 1976. In October 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China in the United Nations, and took its seat as a permanent member of the Security Council.[121] This UN action also created the problem of the political status of Taiwan and the Two Chinas issue.

Reforms and contemporary history

1989 Tiananmen Square protests
was ended by a military-led massacre which brought condemnations and sanctions against the Chinese government from various foreign countries.

After Mao's death, the Gang of Four was quickly arrested by Hua Guofeng and held responsible for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978, and instituted large-scale political and economic reforms, together with the "Eight Elders", CCP members who held huge influence during this time. The CCP loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives, and the communes were gradually disbanded in favor of working contracted to households. The Cultural Revolution was also rebuked, with millions of its victims being rehabilitated.[122] Agricultural collectivization was dismantled and farmlands privatized, while foreign trade became a major new focus, leading to the creation of special economic zones (SEZs). Inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were restructured and unprofitable ones were closed outright, resulting in massive job losses.[citation needed] This marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open-market environment.[123] China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982.

In 1989, the country saw large pro-democracy protests, eventually leading to the Tiananmen Square massacre by the leadership, bringing condemnations and sanctions against the Chinese government from various foreign countries, though the effect on external relations was short-lived.[124]

better source needed] British Hong Kong and Portuguese Macau returned to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively, as the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions under the principle of one country, two systems. The country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.[126]

Between 2001 and 2002, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao succeeded Jiang and Zhu as paramount leader and premier respectively; Jiang attempted to remain CMC chairman for longer before giving up the post entirely between 2004 and 2005.[126] Under Hu and Wen, China maintained its high rate of economic growth, overtaking the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan to become the world's second-largest economy.[129] However, the growth also severely impacted the country's resources and environment,[130][131] and caused major social displacement.[132][133] Hu and Wen also took a relatively more conservative approach towards economic reform, expanding support for SOEs.[134]: 217 Additionally under Hu, China hosted the Beijing Olympics in 2008.[135]

Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang succeeded Hu and Wen as paramount leader and premier respectively between 2012 and 2013; Li Keqiang was later succeeded by Li Qiang in 2023. Shortly after his ascension to power Xi launched a vast anti-corruption crackdown ,[136] that prosecuted more than 2 million officials by 2022.[137]: 171  Leading many new Central Leading Groups to bypass traditional bureaucracy, Xi consolidated power further than his predecessors.[138][139] Xi has also pursued changes to China's economy, supporting SOEs[140] and making eradicating extreme poverty through "targeted poverty alleviation" a key goal.[141] In 2013, Xi launched the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure investment project.[142] Xi has also taken a more assertive stance on foreign and security issues.[143] Since 2017, the Chinese government has been engaged in a harsh crackdown in Xinjiang, with an estimated one million people, mostly Uyghurs but including other ethnic and religious minorities, in internment camps.[144] The National People's Congress in 2018 amended the constitution to remove the two-term limit on holding the Presidency, allowing for a third and further terms.[145] In 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) passed a national security law that authorize the Hong Kong government wide-ranging tools to crack down on dissent.[146] From December 2019 to December 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic leads the government to enforce strict public health measures indented to completely eradicate the virus called zero-COVID, a goal that was eventually abandoned.[147]


China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from the


The territory of China lies between

Amur. To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. High plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert. The world's highest point, Mount Everest (8,848 m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border.[148] The country's lowest point, and the world's third-lowest, is the dried lake bed of Ayding Lake (−154 m) in the Turpan Depression.[149]


China's climate is mainly dominated by

monsoons, which lead to pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist.[151]

A major environmental issue in China is the continued

water shortages for hundreds of millions of people.[155] According to academics, in order to limit climate change in China to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) electricity generation from coal in China without carbon capture must be phased out by 2045.[156] Official government statistics about Chinese agricultural productivity are considered unreliable, due to exaggeration of production at subsidiary government levels.[157][158] Much of China has a climate very suitable for agriculture and the country has been the world's largest producer of rice, wheat, tomatoes, eggplant, grapes, watermelon, spinach, and many other crops.[159]