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    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan
    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

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    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    Bahrain
    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

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    Maldives
    This low-lying archipelago is a tourist destination due to its many impressive beaches and crystal-clear waters (pictured). Explore the Maldives!

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    Thailand: Grand Palace in Bangkok. Go Now!

    Thailand
    Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, but the city of Chiang Mai is a cultural center and Bangkok (pictured) is a thriving urban capital. Begin Your Journey!

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    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    Tajikistan
    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Culture & Identity of China

Introduction

Chinese Culture - Fisherman on the Yulong River
Fisherman in Yangshuo

Life in China is very much dictated by the government. The country has a vast amount of freedoms, but the government has made so many changes that today the way of life in China is completely different than it was a century ago for most people.

Prior to the communist takeover in China, the culture and way of life was quite diverse as various ethnic groups had vastly different ways of life and most people lived off the land as agriculture was the occupation of most people. Today the culture of these people has become more uniform, industrialization has taken off, and the people have begun to urbanize.

Today nearly have the population is lives in cities as some cities are home to tens of millions of people. The work force is also more diverse as about a third of the working population is employed in agriculture, about a third in industry, and about a third in services.

Chinese Culture - Rice Planter in Southern China
Planting Rice

For many of the farmer, life is dependent on the weather, the seasons, and the land. Farming is often still done by hand as machinery is present, but not everyone has accessibility to it. For these people life tends to be seasonal with long working hours during the summers and fewer working hours during the winter months. These people also tend to be rural as family and community are very important. Many of the ethnic minorities who are more rural tend to work in agriculture.

On the opposite extreme, the massive cities of China today have created an ultra-urban lifestyle. In places like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and dozens of others the way of life moves much more quickly. Many working people in these huge cities use public transportation to navigate the city, they have regular working hours, often from about 8:00 am to about 6:00 pm, and the income tends to be much higher so money can be spent on entertainment.

China is diverse and ever changing; although the government has altered the culture and way of life in many ways, in some villages little has changed. Throughout the country is seems there is no single culture or way of life, just one government. No matter the way of life in China, life still seems to revolve around family. With the ability to only have one child, most families place great importance on their child and seek out the best for him or her, often times putting great societal pressure on their children, but only because they want the best for them.

Identity

The Chinese people today consist of dozens of ethnic groups and most of them identify either as a citizen of China or by their ethnic roots, whether that be Han Chinese, Tibetan, Dai, or one of the dozens of other ethnicities. The Chinese government has been quite successful in installing a pride of being Chinese citizens in their people and many people proudly claim themselves "Chinese" (referring to the nationality, not the ethnicity). This political definition is very inclusive as it is wholly defined by citizenship and politics (but there is only one political party in China); hence, this definition includes people of all ethnicities and unifies the people (even if they don't want to be unified). Few people openly protest the government so it's rare to find people clinging to an identity based upon political leanings, legal issues, philosophical beliefs, or even religion, which is discouraged by the government.

This page was last updated: November, 2013