China is one of the world’s most fascinating nations with an ancient past and diverse culture, boasting some of the oldest traditions on Earth and experiencing rapid development at an astounding rate.
China is home to fascinating facts like: paper was first invented there; half of all world pigs live there and its railway lines could circle the planet twice over!
The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is one of the longest human-made structures ever erected and is considered a key symbol of Chinese culture, being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering 6,700km across deserts, grasslands and mountains; built over centuries by multiple dynasties using thousands of soldiers, slaves (including women and children) as well as slave labor – up to one million individuals died during its construction alone!
The Great Wall was constructed to shield China from nomadic, northern invaders. Individual nations had implemented wall-building projects against these marauders before joining together during Qin Dynasty (221 BC).
After the Qin dynasty, many emperors rebuilt and expanded upon it. Most of its current structure can be traced back to Ming dynasty’s work – though portions from earlier dynasties still stand today – making the wall an icon of strength and national unity in China that often serves as an illustration of Chinese perseverance against obstacles.
Though originally constructed to protect from invasion by Xiongnu tribes and later Mongols, their invasion was eventually repulsed by both Tang dynasty and Ming dynasty forces and therefore it lost much of its function as a defensive mechanism.
The Wall is comprised of passes, watchtowers, garrison towns, and beacon towers which have been strategically constructed to defend specific regions. Each section of the wall is laid out according to specific strategies in order to effectively defend an area. Furthermore, each section was built so defenders can see an approaching enemy from atop of the Wall itself.
Robert Ripley made a claim about the Great Wall being visible from space in his popular cartoon show Believe It or Not! However, this claim was later disproven due to lack of scientific proof and was disproven long before humans first traveled to space. Although not visible from outer space itself, its symbolic presence remains an icon representing Chinese pride and determination.
The Chinese language
China is home to an ancient and vibrant culture that has had a lasting effect on our world. China has made tremendous contributions to both global economy and culture; one visible form is Chinese as one of the world’s most spoken and written languages, estimated by many experts at being spoken by some 1.3 billion people today; one could argue this makes China one of the greatest influencers today.
Mandarin has become the standard language in China and is spoken widely across its territory. It combines Beijing’s pronunciation and grammar and vocabulary of other Mandarin dialects with localized variations; moreover it’s widely taught. Sometimes known as standard Chinese (guo yu), in western culture this form of Chinese is usually known by its English name – Mandarin.
China, due to its vast territory, populace, longstanding civilization, and diverse ethnic groups is home to a wide array of language varieties. While speakers of the various Chinese varieties may not understand each other in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary use, all varieties are recognized as valid forms of the Chinese language – similar to how Romance languages are considered separate entities despite mutual intelligibility.
An often-repeated myth about Chinese is that its characters were all replaced by alphabet letters during Communist rule, though this claim cannot be proven; traditional characters remain widely used today and will likely remain so into the future.
Though Chinese is an intricate language, learning it does not need to be impossible for foreigners. Books and online resources are invaluable when trying to master it; plus there are extensive networks of Chinese-speaking communities all over the world who will gladly assist newcomers with learning Chinese. Just keep in mind there are many nuances within its structure which require patience and persistence when learning it!
The Chinese people
China is an amazing land of diverse ethnic groups with 56 unique languages and cultures, each possessing their own way of life. Chinese people take great pride in their nation and work tirelessly towards meeting the goals they have set themselves; believing that success in turn leads to even more happiness for future generations. Additionally, they possess strong bonds of loyalty and unity among themselves that contributes to their overall success.
China was one of the earliest nations to establish a modern civilization, as evidenced by archaeological digs dating back over 5,000 years. China boasts one of the oldest writing systems and was instrumental in the invention of many major innovations like paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder. Furthermore, China boasts some stunning natural wonders including Great Wall of China and Yellow River.
China has experienced great achievements during its history. Yet it remained relatively isolated from outside influences for much of this time, which allowed China to cultivate an exquisite culture but left it poorly equipped to face off against technologically superior forces after mid 19th century.
China is now a powerful global force with an increasingly prosperous economy and one of the largest populations on earth. It boasts the world’s largest military, with an army of over 2 million soldiers active duty. China has also long had diplomatic conflicts with other nations over key trade routes like South China Sea. Under President Xi Jinping’s control, power in both state and party has been increasingly concentrated into his hands.
China is an expansive nation and can be divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing), two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau), as well as numerous smaller towns and villages spread out over its vast territory. Beijing serves as the political, economic and cultural heart of the People’s Republic of China while other notable cities include Shanghai Nanjing Guangzhou Shenzhen.
The Chinese economy
China began opening up and reforming its economy in 1978, and since then its annual GDP growth has averaged 9 percent; over 800 million people have emerged from poverty as a result. China boasts an expansive manufacturing sector which supplies textiles, machinery, cement products, food processing equipment, transportation devices (trains, planes and automobiles), electronics among many other things.
China may be massive, yet is far behind other nations when it comes to economic and government development. The vast population serves as a substantial impediment to economic output and places strain on services delivered by government.
Government policies have gradually moved away from relying on investment and foreign trade for domestic consumption purposes, with only 1.3 percent of GDP of its GDP net trade surplus being traded compared with Germany or South Korea’s equivalent numbers.
China’s recent shift away from global demand for its manufactured goods and toward domestic consumption is also making the nation less dependent upon global markets for demand, giving other countries more leverage in influencing its policies – the US is both China’s top exporter and top importer, but trade exposure varies depending on region and industry.
Still, China remains politically vulnerable to Communist Party directives and remains inhibited by corruption. Additionally, periodic diplomatic tensions occur with neighboring nations over territorial claims in the South China Sea, an essential international shipping route. As a result of his efforts, Chinese President Xi Jinping has amassed more state and party power into his hands, leading to its score on Freedom House’s Economic Freedom of the World Index being only 48 out of 100 – well below both global average and regional Asian average scores. China remains the second-largest economy worldwide and continues to experience rapid economic expansion. China’s abundant supply of low-cost manufactured goods provides consumers worldwide with cost savings; American households, for instance, can save expenditures when buying Chinese imports at discounted prices. Furthermore, companies manufacturing products in China can lower production costs while increasing global competitiveness by selling their finished goods globally – particularly high tech goods and automobiles.