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    Iran is home to a unique language, culture, foods, and history. Even within the Middle East Iran is unlike any other country. Explore Iran!

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    Bangladesh
    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

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    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

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    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

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    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of China

Ethnicity

China is an incredibly diverse country from an ethnic perspective. The largest group of people, making up over 90% of the population, is Han Chinese. The Han make up the largest part of the Sino-Tibetan ethnic group and, as the name would suggest, their closest relatives are smaller Chinese and Tibetan groups. These relatives in the Sino-Tibetan family are also the bulk of the remaining people in the country. However, there are numerous other ethnic minorities in the country, particularly closer to borders, such as ethnic Koreans near Korea, Russians near Russia, Mongols, Tajiks, Indians, etc.

Language

China is home to hundreds of languages, however the most common dialects spoken are Mandarin (or standard Chinese), Cantonese (Yue), and Shanghinese (Wu), all of which are Chinese languages in the Sino-Tibetan language family. In addition to these Chinese languages, there are dozens more which belong to both the Sino-Tibetan language family as well as others. Towards many of China's borders more unique languages are spoken as Turkic and Iranian languages are spoken in the northwest, Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan languages in the southwest, and the numerous languages of Southeast Asia in the south. Three of these minority languages, Mongolian, Uighur, and Tibetan are official regional languages.

Nearly every minority speaker also learns Mandarin, which is the primary means of communication between linguistic groups. English and other popular international languages are less commonly spoken in China, although many students are slowly learning these languages. In Hong Kong nearly everyone is fluent in English and in nearby Macau many people are fluent in Portuguese and/or English.

Religion

Chinese Culture - Monks debating in Tibet
Monks debating in Tibet

The Chinese government's policy is that the country is officially atheist, however today they government doesn't outwardly prosecute religious adherents. Many people do follow religious or philosophical belief systems; most common among these being Taoism (or Daoism) and Buddhism. Christianity and Islam are practiced in much smaller numbers as well.

Taoism is a religion or philosophy that dictates how one lives his or her life. At its core, Taoism is about living in harmony with the Tao, which means way or path. In other words living a life of Taoism is focused on living in harmony with nature and society. Taoism is about balance and living a life that reflects this, not asserting one's own way. In this way, one of the most powerful aspects of the religion is called wu-wei, which is a very complex ethical concept that essentially means one should do what is right and not force his or her own will if it is not in harmony with nature; in English it is often known as "action without action."

Buddhism is a religion or philosophy that encourages people to strive for enlightenment. Adherents believe that each being is reborn until enlightenment is reached, at which time they escape the cycle of birth and death. To accomplish this, every being must speak, act, and live in a positive manner; this is magnified with the force of karma, which dictates an individual's later life and/or their rebirth.

This page was last updated: May, 2014