China Geography and Climate

China ranges from mostly plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east. Principal rivers flow from west to east, including the Yangtze (central), the Huang He (Yellow river, north-central), and the Amur (northeast), and sometimes toward the south (including the Pearl River, Mekong River, and Brahmaputra), with most Chinese rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains. On the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, grasslands can be seen. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China’s two major rivers, the Huang He and Yangtze River. Most of China’s arable lands lie along these rivers; they were the centers of China’s major ancient civilizations. Other major rivers include the Pearl River, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. Yunnan Province is considered a part of the Greater Mekong Subregion, which also includes Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

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Chinese Languages

Most languages in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family, spoken by 29 ethnicities. There are also several major “dialects” within the Chinese language itself. The most spoken dialects are Mandarin (spoken by over 70% of the population), Wu (Shanghainese), Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. Non-Sinitic languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Zhuang (Thai), Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Turkic), Hmong and Korean.

 

Putonghua (Standard Mandarin, literally Common Speech) is the official language and is based on the Beijing dialect of the Mandarin group of dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China. Standard Mandarin is the medium of instruction in education and is taught in all schools. It is the language used in the media, for formal purposes, and by the government. Non-Sinitic languages are co-official in some autonomic minority regions. Road signs in major Chinese cities are typically bilingual in Chinese and English.

 

“Vernacular Chinese” or “baihua” is the written standard based on the Mandarin dialect which has been in use since the early 20th century. An older written standard, Classical Chinese, was used by literati for thousands of years before the 20th century. Classical Chinese is still a part of the high school curriculum and is thus intelligible to some degree to many Chinese. Spoken variants other than Standard Mandarin are usually not written, except for Standard Cantonese (see Written Cantonese) which is sometimes used in informal contexts.

 

Chinese banknotes are multilingual and contain written scripts for Standard Mandarin (Chinese characters and Hanyu Pinyin), Zhuang (Roman alphabet), Tibetan (Tibetan alphabet), Uyghur (Arabic alphabet) and Mongolian (traditional Mongolian alphabet).

Source: Wikipedia

Religion in China

The People’s Republic of China is officially secular and atheist, but does allow personal religion or supervised religious organization. Buddhism (Chinese: 佛教; pinyin: Fójiào) and Taoism (Chinese: 道教; pinyin: Dàojiào), along with an underlying Confucian morality, have been the dominant religions of Chinese society for almost two millennia. Personal religion is more widely tolerated in the PRC today, resurrecting interest in Buddhism, Islam, and Taoism. The main Buddhism tradition practiced by the Chinese is Mahayana Buddhism (Chinese: 大乘; pinyin: Dàshèng). Its subsets Pure Land (Chinese: 淨土宗; pinyin: jìng tǔ zōng) and Chan (Simplified Chinese: 禅宗; Traditional Chinese: 禪宗; pinyin: Chánzōng) are the most common. Among the younger, urban secular population, spiritual ideas of Feng Shui have become popular in recent years, spawning a large home decoration market in China. The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States reports that in addition to unknown numbers of adherents of Taoism and Buddhism,

      3%–4% Chinese from the People’s Republic of China are adherents of Christianity, and
      1%–2% Chinese from the People’s Republic of China are adherents of Islam.

Religion and ancient Chinese traditions are widely tolerated in the Republic of China, and play a big role in the daily lives of modern Taiwanese people. According to the official figures released by the CIA:
  • 93% of Taiwanese are adherents of a combination of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
  • 4.5% of Taiwanese are adherents of Christianity. This includes a combination of Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and non-denominational Christian groups.
  • 2.5% of Taiwanese are adherents of other religions such as Islam, Judaism, and the Bahá’í Faith.
Source: Wikipedia