China Fast Facts

a very busty plaza in lijiang china

Population: 1,403,500,365
Capital City: Beijing
Climate: Dry Seasons and Wet Monsoons

A hillside with two temples in China

Language: Mandarin
International Dialing Code: +86
Premier: Li Keqiang

China: The Land Of Contrasts

China is the land of contrasts. High-rise towers—signs of a prosperous middle-class and of an overly ambitious (even hubristic) ruling elite—are built by the millions of migrant rural workers, who live on an income of US$50 per month. Geography is not an exception: With a size roughly equal to that of U.S., the country hosts arid deserts and the Himalaya Mountains, as well as fertile plains and some of world’s longest rivers. Coastal and southern cities have mild weather year-round, while the inland cities farther to the north typically experience dry, cold winters and muggy, hot summers.

As a foreigner, you will feel pampered in China. It may be your hair, or the color of your eyes, or the fact that you speak English…any of these will turn heads. It may well happen that you are offered the seat on a bus. You are bound to find here friendly, hospitable and, generally speaking, well-educated people.

Living in China can be a challenge too. Cities are crowded and busy and English is not widely spoken. There are lots of expat groups though so finding friends and like-minded people will never be a problem. The experience of living in this unique culture is certain to be something that will stay with you forever.

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When I first visited China in 1994, there were more bicycles on the streets of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, than cars. Roads were just being built throughout the country. The economy was on the verge of fully embracing a capitalist model after decades of failed communist policies. I stayed at the Jinjiang Hotel, the first five-star hotel in Chengdu. I marveled at the marble work, the remote control for the drapes, and the great breakfast buffet. There was...

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