What is China? China is the world's most populous country on the eastern side of Asia.

Tourists walking along the Great Wall of China.

China (the People's Republic of China) is the country with the world's largest population, somewhere around 1.35 billion. It PRC is governed by the Communist Party. The capital city is Beijing.[

China is the world's second largest country by area, being nearly 10million sq km, but much of that is mountain and desert. The country is so large that the climate varies from one with tropical rainforests in the south, to one of snowy winters in the north.

The largest mountain range is the Himalayas and the mountains that go east from them. They effectively act as a wall of mountains, separating China from many other countries of southern Asia.

The two largest rivers are the The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world. Both begin on the Tibetan Plateau and flow to the Pacific Ocean.

China has one of the world's five earliest civilisations. It began in the area of the Yellow River and was run as a kingdom for thousands of years. These kingdoms were named after their rulers and called dynasties. The first was called the Xia, and started about 4000 years ago. Later it expanded to an empire and the ruler was an emperor. The last dynasty ended in 1949 when it was replaced by the Communist Party rule.

China was the home to thinkers, poets, writers and inventors. Many of the world's early inventions were made in China. Gunpowder is one of the best known. But then it became inward-looking and its fortunes changed.

In recent years it has begun to grow again and now much of the world's goods are made in China.

Video: A muscial introduction to historic China.

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