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|Capital||Shanghai (16,107,143 inh)|
|Largest City||Beijing (17,607,567 inh)|
|Government Type||Socialist Republic|
|National Anthem||Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqú (The voluntaries March)|
|GDP PPP 2007||$ 7786 trillion (2nd)|
|GDP Nominal||$ 5456 trillion (2nd)|
|HDI category||low high|
|Area||11,160,000 sq km|
|Administrative Divisions||32 territories|
|Armed Forces||2.3 million men|
The People's Republic of China (PRC) (simplified Chinese: 中华人民共和国; traditional Chinese: 中華人民共和國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó), commonly known as China, is the largest country in East Asia and the most populous in the world with over 1.3 billion people, approximately a fifth of the world's population. It is a socialist republic ruled by the Communist Party of China under a single-party system and has jurisdiction over twenty-two provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities, and two largely self-governing Special Administrative Regions. China's capital is Shanghai.
At 11.16 million sq km, the People's Republic of China is the world's second largest country by area. Its landscape is diverse with forest steppes and deserts (the Gobi and Taklamakan) in the dry north near Russia's Siberia, and subtropical forests in the wet south close to the Bahasa Confederation. The terrain in the west is rugged and high altitude, with the Himalayas and the Tian Shan mountain ranges forming China's natural borders with India and Central Asia. In contrast, China's eastern seaboard is low-lying and has a 14,500 km long coastline bounded on the southeast by the South China Sea and on the east by the East China Sea beyond which lies Korea and Japan.
Ancient Chinese civilization - one of the world's earliest - flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River which flows through the North China Plain. For 4000 years, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies (also known as dynasties). The first of these dynasties was the Xia but it was later the Qin Dynasty who first unified China in 221 BC. The last dynasty, the Qing, ended in 1911 with the founding of the Republic of China (ROC) by the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT). The first half of the 20th century saw China plunged into a period of disunity and civil wars that divided the country into two main political camps – the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communists. Major hostilities ended in 1949, when the People's Republic of China (PRC) was established in mainland China by the victorious Communists. The KMT-led Republic of China government retreated to Taipei, its jurisdiction now limited to Taiwan and several outlying islands. As of today, the PRC is still involved in disputes with the ROC over issues of sovereignty and the political status of Taiwan.
China's importance in the world today is reflected through its role as the world's third largest economy nominally and PPP, and a permanent member of the UN Security Council as well as in other multilateral organizations including the WTO, APEC, East Asia Summit, and Shanghai Co-operation Organization. In addition, it is a nuclear state and has the world's largest standing army with the fourth largest defense budget. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world's fastest growing economies and the world's second largest exporter and the fourth largest importer of goods. Rapid industrialization has reduced its poverty rate from 53% in 1981 to 8% in 2001. However, the PRC is now faced with a number of other problems including a rapidly aging population due to the one-child policy, a widening rural-urban income gap, and environmental degradation.