The world’s most populated country is without doubt, the land area of China. Officially called the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it is a one-party sovereign state. China has a population of almost 1.5 billion. As well, it is one of the largest countries in the world by total area. The Communist Party governs the entire area and has jurisdiction over 22 provinces. The Communist Party also directly controlles four municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the unique administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
One of the world’s earliest civilisations
China is widely thought to be the birthplace of one of the world’s earliest civilisations. Archeologists believe that it began in the fertile basin of the Yellow River, within the North China Plain. Historically, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies or dynasties. This heritage began with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st-century BC. Since then, there have been many sociological changes. The Chinese Civil War led to the break up of the country in 1949.
The victorious Communist Party of China founded the People’s Republic of China on the mainland. The losing Kuomintang people retreated to Taiwan. Taiwan retains the former Republican government. Currently, however, dispute continues regarding the final status of Taiwan. Subsequently, the Communist Party has modernised its level of control in recent years by the introduction of economic reforms in the late 70’s. Since this time, China’s economy began to boom. Nowadays, there is an annual growth rate which consistently performs above six per cent.
The largest group of people in China are the Han Chinese. Other groups include the Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, Naxi. Additionally, there are the Hezhen who are the smallest group, with fewer than 2,000 people claiming this heritage. The officially atheist Chinese Communist Party once drew a hard line regarding tolerance of other religions. Currently, the practice of only five official religions is permitted. Any religion other than Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism is illegal. However, this is despite the Chinese constitution. The constitution states that people are allowed freedom to choose their faith. It is fair to say though, that the ruling party’s policies are still evolving on this subject.
There are seven significant dialects of the Chinese language. Each dialect has variations within. It is true to say though that the vast majority of the population speak Mandarin dialects. Also, many educated Chinese speak English as their second language. Other spoken dialects amount to less than 10% of the population Wu (8.5 per cent), Yue ( Cantonese; 5 per cent), Xiang (4.8 per cent), Min (4.1 per cent), Hakka (3.7 per cent) and Gan (2.4 per cent).