Destination information China

History

Chinese historical records reach back to 5,000 years ago. It is impossible to cover even the major events of this ancient culture in a short space, but here are some highlights.

The first non-mythical dynasty to rule China was the Xia (2200- 1700 B.C.), founded by Emperor Yu. It was succeeded by the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.), and then the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.). Historical records are scanty for these ancient dynastic times. In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang assumed the throne, conquered neighboring city-states, and unified China. He founded the Qin Dynasty, which lasted only until 206 B.C. Today, he is best-known for his tomb complex in Xian, which houses the incredible army of the well known Terracotta Warriors. Qin Shi Huang's inept heir was overthrown by the army of commoner Liu Bang in 207 B.C. Liu then founded the Han Dynasty, which lasted until 220 A.D. In the Han era, China expanded west as far as India, opening trade along whit what would later become the Silk Road.

When the Han Empire collapsed in 220 A.D., China was thrown into a period of anarchy. For the next four centuries, dozens of kingdoms competed for power. This era is called the "Three Kingdoms," after the three most powerful of the rival realms (Wei, Shu, and Wu), but that is a gross simplification. By 589 A.D., the Western branch of the Wei kings had accumulated enough wealth and power to defeat their rivals, and unite China once more. The Sui Dynasty was founded by Wei general Yang Jian, and ruled until 618 A.D. It built the legal, governmental, and societal framework for the powerful Tang Empire to follow.

The Tang Dynasty was founded by a general called Li Yuan, who had the Sui emperor assassinated. The Tang ruled from 618 to 907 A.D., and Chinese art and culture flourished. At the end of the Tang, China decended into chaos again in the "5 Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms" period.
In 959, a palace guard named Zhao Kuangyin took power and defeated the other small kingdoms. He established the Song Dynasty (960-1279), known for its intricate bureaucracy and Confucian learning.
In 1271, the Mongolian Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis) established the Yuan Dynasty(1271-1368). The Mongols subjugated other ethnic groups including Han Chinese, and were overthrown by the Han Ming. China flowered again under the Ming (1368-1644), creating great art and exploring as far as Africa.

The last Chinese dynasty, the Qing, ruled from 1644 to 1911, when it was overthrown by Sun Yat-Sen, touching off the Chinese Civil War. Although the war was interrupted for a decade by the Japanese invasion and World War II, it picked up again once Japan was defeated. Mao Zedong and the Communist Peoples Liberation Army won the Chinese Civil War, and China became the Peoples' Republic of China in 1949. Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the losing Nationalist forces, fled to Taiwan.

Climate

Because of the large area and various landforms China holds, the climate can go from subarctic to tropical.

China's northern province of Heilongjiang has average winter temperatures below freezing, with record lows of -30 degrees Celsius. Xinjiang, in the west, can reach nearly 50 degrees. Can you imagine how hot this must be?! Southern Hainan Island has a tropical monsoon climate. Average temperatures there range from about 16 degrees Celsius in January to 29 degrees Celsius in August.
Hainan receives about 200 centimeters of rain in one year. The western Taklamakan Desert receives only about 10 centimeters of rain and snow per year.

  • Destination information China

The country

China has a land surface of almost 10 million km². This means that China is about 239 times as big as The Netherlands. China is in the top 3 of the largest countries in the world and comes in third after Russia and Canada. 

China is located in Central Asia and adjoins to 17 other countries! 
Keep in mind that you travel into another time zone. Despite its size, all of China is in one time zone. So, keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to call your parents on Skype at 10 in the morning as they are probably still sleeping.    

Now what is the most magnificent thing about China? We think it’s the variety in geography, landscapes and climates. You can go from tropical rainforests to rice fields, deserts to grass landscapes, snowy mountaintops to gorgeous beaches and the huge cities alternated by the tiny villages. How great is that?! 

The culture

China has a lot of rich and cultural traditions. For centuries, people have been trying to create their own style and shapes. Perfection is an absolute must. You can, for example, see their interesting, different and mysterious ways in their dancing, singing, clothing and architecture. Also very well known are the colourful tea ceremonies.

We all are familiar with the Chinese palaces and temples with the beautiful gardens and water creations. The Chinese people are very proud of their architecture because it is completely different from anything else you will see while traveling the world. 

China is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with 1,3 billion people. Shanghai holds the most people with the incredible number of 13,7 million people (in one city) and Peking is next in line with 11,3 million people. This is the reason why Chinese people are not allowed to have more than one child, or preferably no children at all. 

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