Sunday, 2 June 2013

Truly Spectacular Scenery!




China is a multifaceted country, a derivative of an ancient civilisation, a modern nation and an entity with a global presence. The country was named by traveller Marco Polo. Its name originates from the Persian name Cin. The cultural influence emanating from China is known to span across the whole of East Asia.

China is known to have influenced the customs, religion and writing systems of other countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.  The capital city of China is Beijing. Other main cities comprise Shanghai, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Harbin, Tianjin, Wuhan, Chongqing, Hong Kong and Chengdu.

China has a continuous history spanning over 4,000 years. This puts it amongst the oldest civilisations in the world. Chinese history is divided into ancient, imperial and modern ages.

The history of China comprises many dynasties that ruled the country at different points of time. Some of the dynasties include Xia, Shang, Zhou, Quin, Han, Xin, Jin, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. The modern part of the history begins with the People's Republic of China (1949 - present).

The advent of civilisation in China led to the invention of writing in the region. The Shang dynasty used Oracle bones for inscribing scripts for forecasting the future. This is the oldest form of Chinese writing. The characters used in this script have influenced the modern Chinese characters prevalent today. In fact, these characters are used throughout the whole of East Asia.

Present-day estimate of the population of China is 1,33,01,41,295 people. According to the 2000 census, the varied ethnic groups in China include Han Chinese, Manchu, Miao, Mongol, Korean and Tibetan amongst others.

The Han Chinese is known to dominate the Chinese population with 91.5% presence. The people of China follow various religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Muslim and Christian. Mandarin is the language of the country, which is also known as Putonghua.

China is politically led by the Communist Party of China. China as an area was first unified by the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. This unification continued till the Manchu dynasty, when it was finally replaced by the modern People's Republic of China in 1949. Today, it comprises 22 provinces other than Taiwan, 5 municipalities ruled by the State Council and 5 autonomous regions that consist of Tibet amongst others.

There are numerous world heritage sites in China. The popular ones are Forbidden City (Beijing), Great Wall of China, Old Town Lijiang, Summer Palace (Beijing), Temple of Heaven and Mount Taishan (Shandong).

Other heritage sites include Shaolin Temple, Suzhou Gardens and Terracotta Army (Xian). Moreover, tourist attractions within China consist of cruises along the rivers Yangtze and Li, Yellow Mountain (Huangshan), The Bund (Shanghai), West Lake (Hangzhou) and Giant Pandas.

Located in north-east Asia, China spreads across an area of 95, 96,961 sq km. The area has diverse terrains with mountains, hills, deltas, plateaus and deserts, with climate changes from south to north.

While the northern climate remains subarctic, the southern climate is tropical in nature. The summers in the country are extremely hot and winters are harsh. Fall or autumn, from September to November is considered the best time to visit.