China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around billion. Covering approximately 9600000 km2, it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin reunited core China and established the first Chinese empire. The succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread widely in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when a republic replaced the Qing dynasty. The Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates consistently above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, China has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as it replaced the ROC in 1971, as well as an active global partner of ASEAN Plus mechanism. China is also a leading member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), WTO, APEC, BRICS, the BCIM, and the G20. In recent times, scholars have argued that it will soon be a world superpower, rivaling the United States.
The word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century. It is not a word used by the Chinese themselves. It has been traced through Portuguese, Malay, and Persian back to the Sanskrit word Cīna, used in ancient India.
"China" appears in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. Barbosa's usage was derived from Persian Chīn (undefined), which was in turn derived from Sanskrit Cīna (undefined). Cīna was first used in early Hindu scripture, including the Mahābhārata (5th century ) and the Laws of Manu (2nd century ). In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived ultimately from the name of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). Although this derivation is still given in various sources, it is complicated by the fact that the Sanskrit word appears in pre-Qin literature. The word may have originally referred to a state such as Yelang. Later, the meaning transferred to China as a whole. The origin of the Sanskrit word is still a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China" . The shorter form is "China" , from zhōng ("central") and guó ("state"), a term which developed under the Western Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne. It was then applied to the area around Luoyi (present-day Luoyang) during the Eastern Zhou and then to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the Qing. It was often used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia people from perceived "barbarians". The name Zhongguo is also translated as "Middle Kingdom" in English.
||¥ or 元