China is the world’s most populous country. It has a continuous culture stretching back nearly 4,000 years and originated many of the foundations of the modern world.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949 after the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang, who retreated to Taiwan, creating two rival Chinese states – the PRC on the mainland and the Republic of China based on Taiwan.
After stagnating for decades under the rigid authoritarian socialism of founder Mao Zedong, China reformed its economy along partly capitalist lines to make it one of the world’s fastest-growing, as well its leading exporter. China is now a major overseas investor, and is pursuing an increasingly assertive foreign and defence policy.
But economic change has not been matched by political reform, and the Communist Party retains a tight grip on political life and much of wider society.
- People’s Republic of China
- Capital: Beijing
- Population 1.35 billion
- Area 9.6 million sq km (3.7 million sq miles)
- Major languageMandarin Chinese
- Major religionsBuddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism
- Life expectancy 72 years (men), 76 years (women)
- Currency Renminbi (yuan)