China
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OFFICIAL NAME
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People's Republic of C hina
GEOGRAPHY
C hina is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, next to Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, or one-fifteenth of the world's land mass. The border stretches over 22,000 kilometers on land and the coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometers, washed by the waters of the Bohai, the Huanghai, the East C hina and the South C hina seas. The Bohai Sea is the inland sea of C hina. There are 6,536 islands larger than 500 square meters, the largest is Taiwan, with a total area of about 36,000 square kilometers, and the second, Hainan. The South C hina Sea Islands are the southernmost island group of C hina.
AREA
9,596,960 sq km / 3,705,386 sq miles
COMPARATIVE
Approximately the size of the United States
POPULATION
1.34 billion (UN 2008)
CAPITAL
Bei jing
LITERACY
99% (age 15+ and can read and write)
LANGUAGE
Official: Mandarin
Note: C hina's language is officially Mandarin, as spoken in Bei jing. The C hinese call it Putonghua. About 70% of the population speak Mandarin, but that's just the tip of the linguistic iceberg. The country is awash with dialects, and dialects within dialects - and few of them are mutually intelligible. Of the seven major strains, Cantonese is the one most likely to be spoken in your local C hinese takeaway. It's the lingua franca of Guangdong, southern Guangxi, Hong Kong and (to an extent) Macau.


Official: Cantonese

Source: Lonely Planet

RELIGION

Mix of Confucianist, Buddhist, Taoist (no stats available)

Muslim (14 million)

Christianity (7 million)

POLITICS
Socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship. Led by the Communist Party of China, multi-party cooperation. 
INCOME
Per capita income = US$ $1,290 per year
CURRENCY
Renminbi ('People's Money') (Y)
TIME ZONE
GMT/UTC +8
SOURCES
Statistics provided by a variety of sources, but mostly the U.S. State Department, the U.N. Statistics Division, and BBC News.

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