35 interesting facts about China

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From the world’s most populous nation to a soup made from bird saliva, these are the most interesting facts about China.

The Great Wall of China
Interesting facts about China include the gigantic Great Wall (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: People’s Republic of China
Population: 1.4 billion
Area: 9,596,960 sq km
Capital city: Beijing
Major languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, Mongolian
Major religions: Atheism, Buddhism
Time zone: UTC+8 (China Standard Time/Beijing Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about China

1. China is an independent country located in East Asia, bordering 14 other countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Vietnam.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

2. China is the world’s fourth-largest country by area after Russia, Canada and the USA.
– Source: World Bank

3. China is the world’s most populous nation and is one of only two countries with more than 1 billion people (the other being India).
– Source: World Bank

A map of China and its bordering countries
Map of China (Shutterstock)

4. China has been inhabited from as early as the 10th millennium BC.
– Source: Britannica

5. There have been nearly 4,000 years of recorded history in China with the first Chinese state for which clear written records remain, the Shang Dynasty, beginning around 1700 BC and lasting until 1046 BC.
– Source: BBC News

6. China was ruled by a series of imperial dynasties from 221 BC to 1901 AD, only broken by a period of Mongol rule from 1271 to 1368 AD.
– Source: BBC News

A statue in the Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was built during the Ming Dynasty (Shutterstock)

7. China only has one time zone across the entire country. Therefore, schools, airports and train stations operate at irregular hours; restaurants remain open for dinner until the early hours; and national exams are sometimes completed in the middle of the night.
– Source: New York Times

8. Following decades of decline and conflict including two wars with Japan, revolutions and civil wars, the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949.
– Source: History Channel

9. China’s flag has a red background with a large yellow star and four smaller stars in its top, left corner. Red represents the communist revolution, while the stars represent the four social classes united under the main star of the Communist Party.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

China's flag flying against a blue sky
China’s flag (Shutterstock)

10. China has the world’s second-largest economy after the USA.
– Source: World Bank

11. China has 56 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – only Italy has more (58).
– Source: UNESCO

12. The UNESCO-listed Great Wall of China is China’s most famous landmark. It is the world’s largest man-made structure at 21,196km (13,171mi) long. It was built to protect China’s northern border.
– Source: BBC News

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China (Shutterstock)

13. Parts of the wall are 2,000 years old and it crosses 23 degrees of longitude and passes through 15 Chinese provinces, principalities and autonomous regions.
– Source: Lonely Planet

14. The UNESCO-listed Forbidden City in Bejing is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings. It was built between 1406 and 1420, has over 900 buildings and receives around  16 million annual visitors.
– Source: Lonely Planet

15. The Chinese New Year is an annual 15-day festival that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars.
– Source: Britannica

Chinese New Year decorations in Beijing
Chinese New Year decorations (Shutterstock)

16. In China, every year is represented by one of 12 animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. According to the calendar, the year you were born could determine your personality. The year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
– Source: National Geographic

17. Gunpowder was invented in China as early as 850 AD when alchemists stumbled upon the explosive properties of a combination of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal while seeking an elixir of life.
– Source: History Channel

18. The Bailong Elevator in China is the world’s tallest outdoor lift. Located in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan, it is 326m (1,070ft) high.
– Source: CNN

The Bailong Elevator
The Bailong Elevator (Shutterstock)

19. In 2010, Chinese archaeologists unearthed a 2,400-year-old pot of soup in Xi’an that had been sealed in a bronze cooking vessel.
– Source: The Telegraph

20. The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in China is the deepest in the world. In some places it extends more than 5,300m (17,490ft) from top to bottom. It is also one of the world’s longest canyons, at around 500km (310mi).
– Source: National Geographic

21. In 1974, Chinese archaeologists excavated a tomb filled with an entire army of life-sized terracotta soldiers and horses that had been interred for more than 2,000 years. So far, over 600 pits of over 7,000 warriors have been unearthed.
– Source: Smithsonian Magazine

The Terracotta Army archaeological site
The Terracotta Army in Xi’an (Shutterstock)

22. China has a law which requires adult children to visit and care for their ageing parents. The “Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly People” bill states children must care for their parents’ spiritual and physical needs.
– Source: The Independent

23. With 2,535,000 armed forces personnel, China has the world’s second-largest army after India.
– Source: World Bank

24. The world’s highest (300m/984ft) and longest (430m/1,411ft) glass bridge is in China. The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge famously closed just two weeks after opening in 2016 when officials realised it was going to be 10 times busier than expected.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge
The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge (Shutterstock)

25. From 1979 to 2016, China had a one-child policy in place, limiting parents to only having one child, in order to slow the country’s population growth.
– Source: BBC News

26. In 2015, a 57-storey skyscraper was built in just 19 working days in China, believed to be the world’s fastest builder.
– Source: The Guardian

27. Pandas can only be found in China. There are only around 1,800 of the endangered bears in the wild and they are considered a national treasure in China.
– Source: WWF

A panda in China
Interesting facts about China include the endangered panda (Shutterstock)

28. Around 30 million people live in caves in China. The caves are carved from porous soil in the Shaanxi Province. President Xi Jinping reportedly lived in one of these caves for seven years when he was younger.
– Source: National Geographic

29. A soup made from bird saliva is considered a delicacy in China. Prized for their alleged health benefits, nests made from swiftlets’ saliva are served in some of China’s more expensive restaurants.
– Source: New York Times

30. At 6,300km (3,915mi), the Yangtze River in China is Asia’s longest and the world’s third-longest river.
– Source: Britannica

The Yangtze River in China
The Yangtze River in China (Shutterstock)

31. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as thousands of other foreign websites, are blocked in China.
– Source: New York Times

32. China’s English name comes from the Qin (Chin) 3rd century BC dynasty. The Chinese name Zhongguo translates as “Central Nation” or “Middle Kingdom”.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

33. Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 8,848m (29,029ft), is located in China. It sits on the Nepal-China border.
– Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Mount Everest
Mount Everest (Atlas & Boots)

34. Nine of the eight-thousanders – the only mountains in the world over 8,000m (26,247ft) – are either part-located or entirely located in China.
– Source: NASA Earth Observatory

35. China is the least religious country in the world. A 2015 international poll, suggests just 7% of its population feels religious.
– Source: The Telegraph

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about China using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.