The Republic of China, also known as China, is a country located in East Asia. China is a democracy, which exercises jurisdiction over eight autonomous regions (China, Taiwan, West China, Mongolia, Manchuria, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet). Its capital city is Beijing. At about 10.2 million sq km (3.7 million sq mi), the republic is the world's third largest country by total area and the second largest by land area. Its landscape is diverse, with forest steppes and deserts (the Gobi and Taklamakan) in the dry north near Siberia, and subtropical forests in the wet south close to Vietnam, Laos and Burma. The terrain in the west is rugged and at high altitude, with the Himalayas and the Tian Shan mountain ranges forming China's natural borders with India and Central Asia. In contrast, mainland China's eastern seaboard is low-lying and has a 14,500-km (9000 mi) long coastline bounded on the southeast by the South China Sea and on the east by the East China Sea beyond which lie Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
The 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 more than 6000 years, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies (also known as dynasties). The first of these dynasties was the Xia (approx. 2000BC) but it was the later Qin Dynasty that first unified China in 221 BC. The ruling dynasty, the Qing, established itself in 1644 with the overthrow of the short-lived Shun Dynasty, established after the end of the Ming Dynasty. After the American martial law, elections took place and civil war started because of the outcome. The civil war finally ended with East China becoming a democracy and a friend to the west and joined NATO in 1971 in and west China became a communist country and joining the Warsaw Pact in 1974.
The Modern Republic of China was formed after the reunification of East and West China in World War III. After the reunification The republic started economic reforms in 2003 and became the world's fastest growing major economy by 2007, being the world's largest exporter for the Years 2004-2009 and second largest importer of goods. China is the world's fifth largest economy by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP) and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is also a founding member of the Hanoi agreement. China has the world's largest standing army with the second-largest defense budget. China has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts. Ever since (approx.) 2009 China and the United States are engage in a cold war.