2019 is the Chinese Year of the Pig! Join in the celebrations here at National Geographic Kids with these cool facts about China, from its ancient empire to the modern day…

Facts about China

1) The Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days.

2) In China, every year is represented by one of 12 animals.

3) China’s Bailong Elevator carries visitors more than 300m up a cliff’s edge.

4) You can buy green-bean-flavoured ice pops in China!

5) In Ancient China, soldiers sometimes wore armour made from paper.

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6) In 2010 a 2,400-year-old pot of soup was unearthed in Xi’an, China.

7) The Forbidden City, a palace complex in Beijing, contains about 9,000 rooms!

Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable Imperial China primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!

8) Found in northern China, long-eared jerboas have ears that are one-third longer than their heads!

9) People race boats with dragon designs at a Chinese festival in the spring.

10) Chinese monal birds sometimes build nests in caves.

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11) Put together, all of China’s railways lines could loop around earth twice!

12) The mortar used to bind the Great Wall’s stones was made with sticky rice!

13) 7th-century Emperor Tang of Shang had 94 ‘ice men’ who made him ice-cream.

14) Temperatures in China”s Turpan Depression can range from 49°C in summer to -29°C in winter.

15) Asiatic golden cats in the country’s south sometimes communicate by spitting.

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16) Developed about 5,000 years ago, the earliest chopsticks were used for cooking, not eating.

17) Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than any other city in the world.

18) Chinese white dolphins, which live off southern China, are often pink.

19) China is about the same size as the continental USA but it only has one official time zone. Continental USA has four.

20) China’s Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys live at a higher altitude than any other primate except humans.

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21) More people speak Mandarin, a Chinese Dialect, as their first language than any other language in the world.

22) China is home to a cluster of ancient rock pillars called the Stone Forest.

23) China’s Leshan Giant Buddha, a gigantic stone statue, has 5.5-m-long eyebrows!

24) China’s giant pandas are good swimmers.

25) Many Chinese emperors considered themselves to be descendants of dragons.

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26) The word “ketchup” may come from a Chinese word for pickled-fish sauce.

27) Half of all pigs on earth live in China.

28) It took around 37 years to make the Terracotta Army, a set of around 8,000 clay soldiers built in Xi’an to guard an Emperor’s tomb. Take a look at these super-impressive statues in the video, below!

29) Dogs get special treats on one day of the Chinese New Year celebration.

30) Chinese brides often wear red, a colour considered to be lucky.

 

Country fact file: China

Read our more in-depth profile on China to learn more about its secrets.

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OFFICIAL NAME: People”s Republic of China

FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Communist state

CAPITAL: Beijing (Peking)

POPULATION: 1,393,783,836

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Chinese, Mandarin

MONEY: Yuan (or Renminbi)

AREA: 9,596,960 square kilometres

MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Himalayas

MAJOR RIVERS: Yangtze, Yellow

China’s geography

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Stretching 5,000 kilometres from east to west and 5,500 kilometres from north to south, China is one seriously huge country! It has lots of different landscapes, too, including mountains, high plateaus (areas of level high ground), sandy deserts and dense forests.

One-third of China’s land area is made up of mountains. The tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, sits on the border between China and Nepal.

China has thousands of rivers. The two main rivers are the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, which both flow from west to east. At 6,300 kilometres long, the Yangtze is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world.

Chinese people and culture

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With a population of over 1.3 billion, China has more people than any other country on Earth. About a third of the population lives in cities, and the rest of the people live in the countryside.

Arts and crafts have a long history in China. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese were some of the first people to use silk, jade, bronze, wood and paper to make art. The artistic writing called calligraphy was invented in China.

Much of China’s modern beliefs and philosophies are based on the teachings of a government official who lived nearly 3,000 years ago – Kongfuzi, also known as Confucius. He taught people the value of things such as morality, kindness and education.

China’s nature

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China’s diverse habitats are home to hundreds of species of animals and plants. More than 3,800 species of fish and hundreds of amphibians and reptile species live in the rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

China’s forest wildlife is threatened by logging and clear-cutting (clearing the land of all trees) for farmland. Expanding deserts in the north are also reducing animal habitats. The good news is that the Chinese government has created more than 1,200 reserves to protect plant and animal species.

The giant panda lives in the misty mountains of central China and nowhere else on Earth. They can usually be found in thick bamboo forests, where they feast on the leaves of this woody evergreen plant. Sadly, due to habitat loss and hunting, these beautiful bears are on the endangered species list, and it’s estimated that only around 1,800 remain in the wild. Although that doesn’t sound like many, panda numbers have actually grown by 17% since the 1970s – good news! You can check out our panda facts, here.

China’s government and economy

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China is ruled by a very powerful central government. A huge workforce and lots of natural resources have driven economic change. This has forced the communist* government to allow more economic and personal freedoms, but it has come at a huge cost to the environment, too.

Many experts predict that the 21st century will be the ‘Chinese century.’ Whether or not that proves to be true, there is no doubt that what happens in China will affect many other nations.

Chinese history

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China is the home of one of the world’s oldest civilisations, but it has only recently become a ‘modern’ nation. In the last 20 years, China has changed faster than any other country in the world.

Chinese history is divided into dynasties, each of which marks the period when a line of emperors ruled. The first empire was the Qin dynasty and began in 221 B.C. The last emperor was overthrown in 1912, and China became a republic. The communist government began its rule in 1949 following a civil war with the Chinese Nationalists.

Ancient China was a land of invention. For centuries, China was much more advanced than most other countries in science and technology, astronomy and maths. The Chinese invented paper, the magnetic compass, printing, tea porcelain, silk and gunpowder, among other things.

* Communism is a system which aims to create a society where everything is shared equally among the people.
* A republic is a form of government where the people elect their leaders to run the country

Words adapted from kids.nationalgeographic.com. Photos: Getty Images UK.

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COMMENTS

  • magnus

    can't wait!

  • Vivian

    Great i loved these facts since I’m in china