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The People's Republic of China

Another four years have passed and it's time for the Summer Olympics again! This year's host country is a controversial choice. China has been criticized for everything from its human rights violations to Beijing's serious air pollution problems. Kidzworld is taking a look at this talked-about country, which is home to more than 1.3 billion people!

Geography

China is 3.7 million square miles (9.5 million square kilometers) in size and is located in East Asia. It is south of Mongolia and Siberia, west of Korea and Japan, and east of India. The capital of China is Beijing but the biggest city is Shanghai, which is home to more than 14 million people. With 1.3 billion people, China is the most populated country in the world.

A (Very) Brief History

China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations so it's fair to say that its history can't be summarized in just a couple of paragraphs, but that won't stop us from trying!

The earliest recorded use of fire by early humans (Homo erectus) occurred in China about 1.27 million years ago. The rise of farming (Neolithic period) began in China about 10,000 years ago. It seems the system of inherited rulership began in the Xia Dynasty, which was around 2100-1600 BC (though there is some debate about whether this dynasty actually existed). From that point onwards, China's history was marked by various hereditary rulerships including the Shang Dynasty (1600 - 1300 BC), the Zhou Dynasty (1122 - 256 BC), the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD), and a whole bunch more that we're skipping over.

The final dynasty was the Qing Dynasty, which ran from 1644 - 1911. The modern Republic of China began with the outbreak of revolution on October 10, 1911. Civil unrest grew stronger and stronger until the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to abdicate. The first provisional president of China was Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary who is often referred to as the "Father of Modern China." In the 1920s, Sun Yat-sen entered into an alliance with the Communist Party of China and, after his death, one of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek, seized control of the National Party and brought most of south and central China under its rule. He turned on the Communist Party, which then reorganized under Mao Tse-tung. Mao proclaimed the People's Republic of China on October 1949.

2008 Beijing Olympics

The 2008 Summer Olympics opened in Beijing on August 8th and runs through to August 24th, 2008. The opening ceremonies began at 8:08 pm on August 8th (08/08/08), which is fitting because eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Beijing has been a controversial choice for Olympic host city because of China's history of human rights problems, occupation of Tibet, poor air quality in Beijing, and China's role in supplying weapons to the Sudanese government in the Darfur Conflict (which has left at least 200,000 people dead). However, event organizers have heralded the Games as a way to highlight modern China's emergence on the world stage.

Did You Know?

  • China has the largest English-speaking population in the world.
  • China has a "one-child policy" that restricts urban families to having one baby in an attempt to deal with over-population.
  • China's currency is called the Yuan.
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