Destinations » Asia » Far East »
official name of the country in English is the People's Republic of China, or
just China for short, but in the local language the word for their country is Zhongguo
(which is the same name used in the Republic of China (Taiwan)). This name has been
used for over 2,500 years and was originally used in reference to the people in
general. It was essentially used to distinguish the people of the region from the
so called barbarians of neighboring countries, but was not used to refer to the
political entity until the 1800s. The English word "China" comes via Persia
and is likely named after the Qin Dynasty.
Chinese pride, culture, and their way of life begin with their ancient roots. However,
this is only primarily true for the majority, the Han Chinese; the country is home
to dozens of ethnic groups and many ethnic minorities have had profound changes
to their cultures in recent times due to governmental changes and pressures.
The Han Chinese have always dominated the region in nearly every sphere, from politics
and economics to food and culture. The historic people lived in a very fertile region
and were surrounded by mountains on many sides, giving them relative peace, stability,
and strength. Due to this stability the culture thrived as the sciences were explored
and the Chinese became world leaders in technology as gun powder was invented and
building techniques rose structures to higher levels.
The flag of China stands on a red background,
the color closely associated with communism and revolution. The small stars represent
the four social classes who are united under the Communist Party: the working class,
the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie, or the
Name: People's Republic of China
Independence: October 1, 1949
Currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi
Population: 1,349,585,838 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Han Chinese & others
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, & others
As Chinese culture thrived and their rulers gained power, they expanded their boundaries,
forcing their culture on neighboring peoples (including many who are now under Chinese
rule). This led to great pride in being Chinese as the military became an integral
aspect of daily life and culture. The military and harsh punishments brought down
by various governments over time led to a well-disciplined society who honored respect
and humility. This respect continues today as the people rarely question their government
as they trust their decisions. Another important aspect of Chinese culture that
developed over time was their need to "save face," something that again
came from honor and respect for others.
After the communists came to power, the culture has again vastly changed although
many of the country's historic elements remained. Like the empires of the past,
the people unquestionably follow their government's lead. The government has,
like rulers in the past, accepted their role with a feeling of obligation to do
what they believe is best for the people, which has led to a quickly changing culture
in China. Today the country has again returned as a world power and leader. Living
standards are also rapidly rising as most people in China today now have houses
or high rise apartments, cars are becoming more popular, education has expanded,
and healthcare is now accessible to nearly everyone.
However, the government has also changed the culture in ways that may not be as
positive. With a one child policy, girls are sometimes abandoned or killed (this
is very rare, despite the large amount of press it receives) as girls are almost
shunned, while boys are greatly honored. Additionally, many young boys are spoiled
by their parents, as they are treated like princes who will one day take over the
family's household. This is leading to a growing "young emperor syndrome"
as these young men are beginning to feel entitled, often times being reminded of
reality only after entering the workforce.
Another bitter rival to the government is the many ethnic minorities who now fall
under Chinese rule as the government sought to expand their borders to natural limits
(bodies of water, deserts, and mountains). Many of the people who lived in these
regions, including the Mongols and Tibetans, had no chance to reject this government,
although they often protest Chinese rule. This has led to a massive destruction
of these cultures as religion is sometimes banned and traditional customs, dress,
and food are outlawed from time to time.
Today the Han Chinese, and many other groups, trust their government and appreciate
the vast improvements they have received from the communist leadership; for others
tensions remain high. What is not questioned is the constantly changing culture
as technology and infrastructure are quickly implemented as the focus of the country
is slowly shifting to economic progress.
Learn More About China:
Map of China:
Start your trip to China with our free Travel Planner: