About China - Overview
This and the following submenus are meant to give you an overview of the important aspects of China, its history, cities, landscape and culture and to provide you with common knowledge about China. Chinese appreciate very much if a foreigner shows sincere interest in their culture. We recommend that you have a look for further information on other websites about China and its culture, too. We offer a selection of links in the "Related Links" menu.
China, with its 5,000 years of documented history, is of one of the oldest civilizations on earth. It is a land of many superlatives: China’s 1.34 billion inhabitants make it the most populous country in the world. With 982 million native speakers, Mandarin is the most spoken mother tongue on earth. The largest palace complex in the world, the Forbidden City in Beijing, was built around 600 years ago. The largest city in the world is located in southwest of China, Chongqing, with its 30.8 million inhabitants. Shanghai, the second largest city in the world, also has the largest port in the world. 10 of the 20 tallest buildings in the world are can be found in China.
As impressive as this may sound, China is much more than a series of abstract extremes. China is a country that shows a promising future and has managed within one generation, to overcome the Middle Ages and to enter modernity. This rapid development led to a general mindset of openness towards innovations and foreign ideas. As a result the Chinese pragmatism resulted in over 30 years of unconfined economic growth and made China the second largest economy in the world.
In addition, China also has to offer impressive landscapes and a highly diversified nature. The cold northeast of the country is home to the Amur tiger and the sturgeon. In the warm southwest, one can observe monkeys and pandas in the wild. China’s 55 minorities account for around 8% of the total population and many of them show totally different customs and traditions, which gives the country many faces.
For a long time the West has been fascinated by China. Paper, porcelain and silk were invented in China centuries ago and already then desired merchandise. Later, the fruits and flowers from China’s Southwest changed the faces of 19th century Europe’s gardens and fields. Even today, Chinese influences attract more and more people from foreign countries: for example, dishes of the different Chinese cuisines or traditional Chinese medicine, which considers man and the environment as a whole. This is also true for the various schools of thought such as those of Confucius, Lao Tzu, or the strategies of General Sun Tzu, which are even taught at West Point.
China is a country that often seems familiarly Western, but at the same time totally different. Since the days of Marco Polo one thing remains true: China is worth the trip!