China is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, or one-fifteenth of the world’s landmass. It begins from the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli Rivers (135 degrees and 5 minutes east longitude) in the east to the Pamirs west of Wuqia County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (73 degrees and 40 minutes east longitude) in the west, with about 5,200 kilometers apart. In the north, it starts from the midstream of the Heilong River north of Mohe (53 degrees and 31 minutes north latitude) and stretches south to the southernmost island Zengmu’ansha in the South China Sea (4 degrees and 15 minutes north latitude), with about 5,500 kilometers in between.
Type: Communist party-led state.
Branches: Executive–president, vice president, State Council, premier. Legislative–unicameral National People’s Congress. Judicial–Supreme People’s Court, Local People’s Courts, Special People’s Courts.
Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (the P.R.C. considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province); 5 autonomous regions, including Tibet; 4 municipalities directly under the State Council.
Political parties: Chinese Communist Party, 76 million members; 8 minor parties under Communist Party supervision.
Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world’s largest).
Agriculture: Products–Among the world’s largest producers of rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley; commercial crops include cotton, other fibers, apples, oilseeds, pork and fish; produces variety of livestock products.
Industry: Types–mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products, including footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites.
Tropical in south to subarctic in north.
The Yangtze River serves as China’s official dividing line between north and south. The warmest areas in winter are to be found in the South and Southwest, such as Sichuan, Banna in Yunnan, and Hainan Island. In summer the coolest spots are in the far northeast.
China has a climate dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which leads to clear temperature differences in winter and summer. In winter, northern winds coming from high latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from sea areas at lower latitude are warm and moist.
China climates differ from region to region because of the country’s extensive and complex topography. In the south of the Nanling Mountains, rains are prolific and the temperature is high all year round. In the Yangtze and Huaihe river valleys in the central part of China, there are four distinctive seasons.
In northeast China, summer is short but there is much sunshine, while winter is long and cold. Precipitation is limited in northwest China where it is cold in winter and hot in summer. In southwest China of low latitudes, the land is elevated high, and has characteristically vertical seasonal zones.
Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season which starts from June to September. Usually it rains at night in the Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo areas. The rainfall may block roads and make travel difficult but the scenery at the time will be the best. From November to the coming May, the wind blows often.
While the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice, particularly on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. The five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Buddhism is most widely practiced.