China is a cradle of civilization, with its known history beginning with an ancient civilization that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties. Since 221 BCE, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times. In 1911, an uprising overthrew the last dynasty in favour of a republic.
Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, local warlords ruled China in lieu of a centralised government. From 1926 to 1928, China came under nominal Kuomintang control following the Northern Expedition. In 1937, Japan invaded and occupied much of Eastern China until their surrender in 1945. From 1946 to 1949, Communist insurgents drove Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek into exile on the island of Taiwan. In 1973, the ROC invaded and re-occupied much of Southern China up to the Yellow River which largely serves as the South China's border with North China to present day.
South China is largely recognized as having the ninth largest economy in the world and as such is a member of the G-20. Since the 1980's, it has also become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies largely from an extensive export and import market. China has been a recognized nuclear weapons state since 1981, and maintains the world's largest standing army. The ROC is also a founding member of the United Nations and has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since 1945.