Whether you’re planning a trip to China with your family, or teaching a classroom full of kids, here are some interesting facts about China’s population, geography, culture, language, and religion. See if your kids can come up with more fun facts about China, and let us know!
- China has the largest population in the world with over 1.3 billion people! That’s one-fifth, or 20%, of the world’s population. Beijing is the capital, but Shanghai contains 4 million more people (at 16.5 million). 92% of the country’s population is Ethnic Chinese, also called Han Chinese, dating back to the Han dynasty 2,200 years ago.
- China is the fourth largest country in the world—just after Russia, Canada and the United States. In fact, if you superimpose a map of China over the United States, the two countries almost match up in size and shape. Try it! China borders 14 countries and 4 seas in Asia.
- Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China, but there are 206 other dialects, including: Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Mongolian. The average person in China learns only about 5,000 of 20,000 characters in the Chinese language. How many Chinese characters do you know?
- China is one of the world’s oldest and most advanced civilizations, going back over 5,000 years. That’s when acupuncture was developed to treat illnesses—still in use today! Dynasties span from the first Qin dynasty in 221 BC to the child Emperor Pu-Yi in 1912, when the country became a republic. China also developed a calendar, a calligraphy writing system, silk, paper, movable-type printing, the wheel, the magnetic compass, porcelain and gunpowder. Did you know they invented so many things?
- There is no official religion of China. While about 30% of the population is Buddhist and/or Taoist, Chinese folk beliefs and Confucianism combine with these traditions and many don’t practice their religion regularly. Did you know the Leshan Buddha (featured below) is the largest carved stone Buddha in the world? Standing 233 feet tall, it was the tallest statue when construction was finished in the year 803. Now the Spring Temple Buddha, also in China, is the tallest at 420 feet!