With a population over 1.3 billion, a land mass almost 9.6 million square kilometers and a culture over 5,000 years old, China is a vast country in every sense.
One of the world’s largest politically unified areas (fourth after Russia, Canada and the U.S.), the country is bordered by a dozen others, both small and large. Several small Asian countries – such as Burma, Vietnam and Laos – are to the south, with a portion of the borders of India and Pakistan to the east. Large percentages of the borders of Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan lie to the north.
Much of the eastern border is water, with large mountains and plateaus to the west. The country is host to every kind of terrain from Mount Everest to the shore of the East China Sea.
Thousands of years of exotic art and (for the age) leading edge technology have been produced over the millennia. A country of diverse peoples and dozens of languages, it is almost misleading to refer to it by a single name. Known chiefly to westerners for its political system and a few outstanding sites such as the Great Wall, China might better be viewed as several countries combined.
Though Beijing is the official capital, a country this size and varied actually has several unofficial capitals.
Hong Kong is unquestionably the financial center of China, indeed one of three such centers in the world, along with London and New York. But there’s much more to Hong Kong than business. The city hosts some of the best sights anywhere – Victoria’s Peak, Harbor tours and a dozen more.
Shanghai, with a population of 20 million housed in over 5,800 sq km, this ancient wonder is now one of China’s – and the world’s – leading industrial centers. It’s also one of the country’s tourist meccas.
Visitors to Shanghai can do much more than marvel at China’s economic boom, though. The Urban Planning Center shows the city as it was and will be. The Xiang Yang Market is the perfect place for those who have already seen San Francisco’s and London’s shopping opportunities. Not far away in Suzhou is the Grand Canal and night boat trips.
Then there is Beijing itself. Nearly 15 million live and work in this area of 16,410 sq km. Among these industrious people are temples, modern skyscrapers and some of the world’s oldest art and newest technology.
Here is found the world renowned Great Wall, the well known Forbidden City and the infamous Tiananmen Square. Here, too, is the world’s largest concentration of mobile phone users. Alongside the completely modern is ancient silk artifacts. Nearby the historical Tibetan Lamasery there are up-to-the-minute first-class hotels and restaurants.
No visit to China would be complete without seeing the justly world-renowned Beijing Zoo. Much more than a home for pandas, the site that was once a private royal garden is now among the chief centers for animal study and display. With over 6,000 samples of 570 species from all over the country, the rare golden monkeys have plenty of company.
Perhaps your interest is in the man-made wonder of 6,000 life-size Terracotta Warriors. Or, maybe you would prefer the natural awe-inspiring Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and the peaks of Mount Everest.
Whatever delights you, China has a vast array of sights to see.