- Quick Facts
People’s Republic of China is the world’s most-populous country with a population of over 1.3billion. The East Asian state covers approximately 9.6million square kilo meters in total area and is the world’s second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.
The People’s Republic of China is a single-party state governed by theCommunist Party of China. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly controlled municipalities, and two mostly self-governing, special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. Its capital city is Beijing. The PRC also claims the island of Taiwan, which is controlled by the government of the Republic of China, as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
Officially known as THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, Wade-Giles romanization CHUNG-HUA, or CHUNG-HUA JEN-MIN KUNG-HO-KUO, Pinyin ZHONGHUA, or ZHONGHUA RENMIN GONGHEGUO, country of East Asia, third largest in the world. It covers an area of 3,696,100 square miles (9,572,900 square km) and stretches about 3,100 miles (5,000 km) from east to west and 3,400 miles (5,500 km) from north to south. The capital is Peking (Beijing). Its 12,400-mile (20,000-kilometre) land frontier is shared with Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma) to the south; India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to the southwest; Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan to the northwest; Mongolia and Russia to the north; and North Korea extending southward from the Northeast (Manchuria). Its 8,700-mile (14,000-kilometre) coastline, on the east and southeast, faces (from north to south) the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait (separating it, by about 100 miles [160 km], from Taiwan), and the South China Sea. Since 1949 the Nationalist government on Taiwan has continued to claim jurisdiction over the China mainland, whereas the government of the People’s Republic of China on the mainland has claimed jurisdiction over Taiwan; both governments are in agreement that the island is a province of China. Pop. 1.25 billion (mainland).
China isn’t a country – it’s a different world. From shop-till-you-drop metropolises to the epic grasslands of Inner Mongolia – with deserts, sacred peaks, astounding caves, and imperial ruins – it’s a land of cultural and geographic schisms. It’s not that China has completely done away with its Maoist past – it’s more that the yin of revolutionary zeal is being balanced by the yang of economic pragmatism, and the old guard communists are giving way to the new wave entrepreneurs.
It’s a land of towering mountains and epic landscapes – background scenery to the fall of dynasties, the rise of emperors and the turning of the revolutionary wheel. Unless you have a couple of years and unlimited patience, it’s best to follow a loose itinerary here, such as Beijing to Tibet via Xi’an’s terracotta warriors, following the Silk Road route, sailing down the Yangtze River, or exploring the Dr Seuss landscape of Guangxi Province.
Full country name: China
Population: 1.34 Billion
Capital City: Beijing
People: Han 91.59%, Zhuang 1.28%, Manchu 0.84%, Hui 0.78%, Miao 0.71%, Uyghur 0.66%, Tujia 0.63%, Other 3.51%
Language: Standard Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Zhuang, and various others
Religion: Chinese ethnic religion, Religious Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism
Government: Nominally Marxist-Leninist single-party state
President: Hu Jintao
GDP: $11.316 trillion
GDP per head: $8,394
Annual Growth: 9.5%
Major Industries: mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products, including footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites
Major trading partners: US, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Germany
- Country Facts
Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) starts on the first day of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in February. Although officially lasting only three days, many people take a week off. Earplugs are handy at this time to dull the firecracker assaults, and prices of hotel rooms tend to go through the roof. The Lantern Festival isn’t a public holiday, but it’s big and it’s colorful. It falls on the 15th day of the 1st moon (around mid-Feb to mid-March) and marks the end of the new-year celebrations. The famous lion dances occur throughout this period. Tomb Sweeping Day is in April, and sees Chinese families spend the day tending the graves of departed loved ones. Hong Kong hosts one of the liveliest annual Chinese celebrations – the Dragon Boat Festival. Usually held in June, the festival honors the poet Qu Yuan and features races between teams in long ornate canoes. Many Westerners take part in the races, but plenty of practice is needed to get all the paddles working as one.
Special prayers are held at Buddhist and Taoist temples on full moon and sliver-moon days. Temple and moon-based festivities include Guanyin’s Birthday (late March to late April), Mazu’s Birthday (May or June), Water-Splashing Festival (13-15 April), Ghost Month (late August to late September), Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (October) and the Birthday of Confucius (28 September).
Renminbi (RMB). The basic unit is the yuan
Foreign currency and travelers’ cheques can be changed at the main branches of the Bank of China, the tourist hotels, Friendship Stores and some department stores. Hotels usually charge the official rate. You will need to keep your exchange receipts if you want to change any of your remaining RMB at the end of your trip. Travelers’ cheques are useful because the exchange rate is more favorable than that for cash; Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa are most commonly accepted.
Credit cards are gaining ground in China, with Visa, MasterCard, American Express (branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen), JCB and Diners Club the most common. Cards can be used in most mid to top-range hotels, Friendship and department stores, but cannot be used to finance your transportation costs. Cash advances can be made at head branches of the Bank of China (4% commission). Tipping is not really expected in mainland China – but bargaining is definitely OK. You can bargain in shops, street stalls, and hotels – but not in large stores.
In a country where provincial capitals are rarely known for their beauty, Nanjing shines. The construction work that’s churning up the face of China seems to have affected this city less than most and it remains a place of broad boulevards and shady trees. This is just as well considering the oppressive summer heat that grips Nanjing, which is known as one of China’s ‘three furnaces’. The city enjoyed its golden years under the Ming, and there are numerous reminders of the period to be found. One of the most impressive is the Ming city wall measuring over 33km – the longest city wall ever built in the world. About two-thirds of it still stands. On the slopes just east of Nanjing is the Sun Yatsen Mausoleum. Sun is recognized by the communists and the Kuomintang alike as the father of China. Nanjing is accessible by rail, bus and air. It is roughly 1000km (620mi) from Beijing.
Tai Shan (or Dai Shan) is the most revered of the five sacred Taoist mountains of China. Since the dawn of Chinese history, poets, writers and painters have found Tai Shan a great source of inspiration and have extolled its beauties. Today, however, the fact that it is a major Chinese attraction means that visitors rarely get a moment’s peace to drink in the experience, but thankfully the pull of legend, religion and history is enough to make the climb or cable-car ride worthwhile. Tai Shan is not a major climb, but with around 6000 steps to negotiate, it can be hard work. The central route’s bewildering catalogue of bridges, trees, towers, statues, inscribed stones, caves, pavilions and temples combine to take your mind off your aching calves.
Not far from the mountain is the town of Qufu, birthplace of Confucius (551-479 BC). Its massive Confucius Temple features a series of impressive gateways, clusters of twisted pines and cypresses, inscribed steles and tortoise tablets recording ancient events. One of the pavilions dates from 1190, while one of the junipers is said to have been planted by Confucius himself (though a Confucian aphorism about gullibility may descend on you if you believe this). The core of the complex is the yellow-tiled Dacheng Hall. The Confucius Mansions date from the 16th century and are the most sumptuous aristocratic lodgings in China, indicative of the former power of the Confucian descendants, the Kong family. The town itself grew up around these buildings, and was an autonomous estate administered by the Kongs. North of the mansions is the Confucian Forest, the largest artificial park and best-preserved cemetery in China. The timeworn route features a ‘spirit way’ of ancient cypresses, passing through the Eternal Spring Archway before reaching the Tomb of the Great Sage. The nearby town of Tai’an is a 9-hour train ride from Beijing. Buses then run regularly to the mountain.
Turpan is 180km southeast of Ürumqi lying in a basin 154m below sea level – the second-lowest depression in the world after Israel’s Dead Sea. It’s also the hottest spot in China: the mercury hovers around an egg-frying 50
- When to Go
Spring (March-April) and autumn (September-October) are the best times to visit China. Daytime temperatures range from 20
- Explore Attractions
Shanghai is the largest city by population of the People’s Republic of China and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.
Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.
Once a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to its favorable port location and was one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking which allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement. The city then flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became the undisputed financial hub of the Asia Pacific in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, the city’s international influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city.
Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Pudong skyline. It has been described as the showpiece of the booming economy of mainland China.
Hangzhou is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. It is governed as a sub-provincial city. As of 2010, the entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people.
A core city of the Yangtze River Delta, Hangzhou has a position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometres (110 mi) southwest of Shanghai that gives it economic power. It has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. The city’s West Lake is its best-known attraction.
Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People’s Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang’an before the Ming Dynasty. Xi’an is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi’an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army.
Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of interior China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi’an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational centre of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China’s space exploration program. It’s now one the most populous metropolitan areas in inland China with more than 8 million inhabitants, including urban parts of Xianyang.
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010.
Beijing is China’s second largest city by urban population after Shanghai and is the country’s political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China’s largest state-owned companies. Beijing is a major transportation hub in the national highway, expressway, railway and high-speed rail network. Beijing’s Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic.
Few cities in the world have been the political and cultural centre of an area as immense for so long. Beijing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. It has been the heart of China’s history for centuries, and there is scarcely a major building of any age in Beijing that does not have at least some national historical significance. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have long made it a centre of culture and art in China.
The bicycle is the unofficial symbol of China, and with more than 300 million trundling about you’ll have no trouble hiring anything from a rattly old local Forever brand to a half-decent multi-speed mountain bike. Even in towns that don’t see many tourists, there are hire shops catering to Chinese who are passing through. Cycling tours are popular and many Chinese and Western travel agents offer short and long-term biking jaunts. Camping along the way is also possible if you can find a few spare blades of grass.
If it wasn’t for the ubiquitous and ridiculously expensive permits, mountaineers, white-water rafters, hang-gliders and other adventurous types would be over China like a rash. Instead you’re far more likely to encounter mountains of red tape. At least hikers can carry on regardless without having to obtain a permit, as they don’t need much equipment. But opportunities for hardcore hiking can be limited to trails fitted out with handrails, steps, souvenir vendors and restaurants. One solution is to go underground. Caving, particularly in the southwest provinces, can be a lot of fun – but be prepared to get wet and muddy.
Camel rides are popular in Inner Mongolia and in the deserts around Dunhuang (Gansu province), and horse riding in the hills of Xinjiang and west of Beijing can be a beautiful way to spend the day. Winter offers ice skating on Beijing’s lakes and skiing (downhill and cross-country) in the northeast provinces, but Westerners with big clodhoppers may have to bring their own boots.
More sedate pursuits include tai chi, a popular form of slow-motion aerobics practiced in nearly every town park in the early morning throughout the land. Novices are always welcome. For brain exercising, most universities offer courses to fee-paying foreign students; possible subjects include Chinese language study, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, brush painting and music.
China Tourist Visa Requirements
Documents Required –
Valid passport for 6 months from date of return from China with minimum two blank pages.
One duly filled visa application forms.
2 photo – (Size – 3.5 mm x 4.5 mm, matt finished, pure white background and face should cover 70 to 75 % portion of snap)
Child below 18 years – Parents also need to sign
Covering Letter from pax addressed to Visa Officer, Consulate of People’s Republic of China
Covering letter from SOTC / KH/DIYH addressed to Visa Officer, Consulate of People’s Republic of China
If employed – Proof of employment (Leave letter is must)
If Businessman – Proof of business
If Retired – Retirement proof
If Student – School or college ID
Last 6 months updated bank statements.(Personal In Original Must and should have minimum balance of INR 1,50,000)
Original Bank Certificate with minimum balance of INR 1,50,000/- along with original bank statement
Hotel conformation (On hotel confirmation there should be seal and signature of hotel management or local supplier)
Conformed return air ticket (There should be seal of airline).
China Consulate, Mumbai’s jurisdiction – China Consulate Mumbai accept all India passport except passport issued in Jammu and Kashmir & Arunachal Pradesh.
China visa is processed at Consulate of Mumbai through China Visa Application Service Center
Time taken: – 4 working days.
Address of Consulate:-
Consulate General of The People’s Republic of China,
8th Floor, Hoechst House, 193 Backbay Reclamation,
Time: It is 2 1/2 hrs ahead of India
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz; plugs can be three-pronged angled, three-pronged round; two flat pins or two narrow round pins.