5,000 years of civilization, a great wall of wonders, tales of legendary dragons, fluffy pandas and global economic dominance.
You can find all of this and much more in China. Keep reading to learn more about China facts and secrets.
Wave The Flag
The Chinese flag has a red background with five golden stars in the upper left corner. Red stands for the blood of the Chinese and it’s also the main color of China; often worn at weddings and festivals for good luck. The large star is for the Chinese communist party, the smaller stars represent the different groups in the country.
All the five stars united together to defeat Japan in WWII.
“Zeng Liansong” designed the current flag when the communist government started a new flag designing competition in 1949. He said he was inspired by the Soviet flag.
The national anthem of China is called “The March of the Volunteers”. In 1935, the anthem was written by “Tian Han” and composed by “Nie Er” who both took part in the resistance to the Japanese invasion.
It was written in the Vernacular –the public language- rather than the classical Chinese to reach a larger audience and encourage the Chinese people to resist the Japanese invaders.
Listen to the Anthem
Pin on the Map
China lies in south-east Asia facing the Pacific Ocean, China shares borders with 14 countries; the summit of Mount Everest of the Himalayas is a border-line between China and Nepal.
China is the 4th largest country in the world and the second-biggest nation in Asia after Russia.
China has over 1.500 flowing rivers; the main rivers are the Yellow River in the north and the Yangtze River in the south. Both rivers originate from the Tibetan plateau.
Flora and Fauna
The pure water of China’s rivers has a great impact on the diversity of the Chinese wildlife with over 30,000 plant species such as China Fir, Yunnan Cypress, The happy tree and Bamboo.
The Chinese used the native plants in cooking, medical potions and offerings to God as Buddhists believe that those plants are holy.
The plants provide home and food for over 4,400 animal species such as pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, Chinese pheasant and Bactrian camel.
Look at the History Book
The First Dynasty
Thousands of years ago, the yellow river flooded every year and destroyed crops of rice and silk. That changed when an engineer, called “Yu”, spent 13 years digging canals and waterways that redirected the floods into new fields.
“Yu” saved the farmers’ lives, so he was named king and his family started the very first Dynasty of China: The “Xia” Dynasty.
The First United Chinese Empire
All the following dynasties were small, separated by rivers, and rapidly fell apart.
By 221 BCE, “Qin Shi Huang” became the first emperor to unite most of China under the rule of the “Qin” Dynasty. He set laws and had a governmental system of ministries.
The Qin Empire is pronounced “CH-in”. This unified empire gave birth to today’s “CH-IN-A”.
The Story Behind The Wall
Emperor “Qin” saw the Pacific Ocean and the Tibetan plateau as natural defenses. He started building a barrier against the Turkish, the Mongols and the Xiongnu in the north. He called it the long wall.
In the 13th century, the Mongols breached the long wall under the leadership of “Genghis Khan”. In 1368, “Zhu Yuan Zhang” defeated the Mongols and took over China again starting the “Ming” Dynasty. He continued building the wall. Watchtowers started to use fire and smoke signals in case of raiders.
The great wall came into use in WWII. China used the Wall to stop the Japanese from going north.
From 1927 to 1949, a civil war erupted in China. The communist party won the war. On October 1st, 1949, the first communist leader “Mao Zedong” declared the People’s Republic of China: the current political status in China. Today, October 1st is the national day of China.
“Mao Zedong” is the man on the “Chinese yuan”; the official currency of China; one yuan equals 0.15 US dollars.
China hosted the 2008 summer Olympics & Paralympics in the capital Beijing.
The spectacular opening ceremony had 2,008 drummers played the bronze Fou drums singing: “Isn’t it delightful to have friends coming from afar?” which is a poem by the Chinese philosopher “Confucius”.
Take A Walk
It’s the capital and the most visited city in China. Beijing is the meeting point of ancient culture and modern Chinese arts.
The Great Wall of China
It’s one of the biggest man-made structures on earth with 21,196 Km in length. The highest place in the wall reaches 14 meters.
As a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, you can’t miss having a photograph next to history; it’s a breathtaking experience to watch the sunrise from the wall as the sun casts light on the beautiful nature.
Just head to the Badaling Pass north of Beijing as organized tours and public transports are available for you.
The Forbidden City or The Imperial Palace
In the heart of Beijing, This UNESCO world heritage palace was home to emperors of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
It covers 720,000 square kilometers and is guarded by a 10-meter wall.
Emperor “Chengzu” of the Ming Dynasty built the palace with 9,999 rooms; He said that only the God of heaven can have 10,000 rooms!
The once forbidden to the public is now an open museum with over 50,000 Chinese art pieces for you to enjoy along with the 3 main halls in the palace; the Hall of Preserving Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
Beijing Zoo & Aquarium
It’s time to meet new friends only found in China. Your first destination would be The Panda Hall as it’s hard to find pandas at any other zoo around the Globe. Not restricted to native Chinese animals; The Beijing zoo has over 5,000 different animals from all around the world like the American Bison and the Australian Kangaroo.
Tickets are free if you’re under 1.2 meters tall, you can even rent a sightseeing car around the zoo for a little extra money.
Now let’s stop by the largest artificial aquarium in the world, you can spot all kinds of marine life like man-eating fish, Chinese sturgeons, sea elephants and even scary sharks.
Enjoy shows performed by dolphins, sea lions & whales in the aquarium theatre.
Beijing 798 Art Zone
It’s an open gallery of street arts, hip sculptures, and unusual yet exciting artwork.
This place was a compound of military factories that made destructive weapons in WWII. Now it’s a home for promising young Chinese artists whose crafts can revive the mind and soul.
The Terracotta Army
In 1970 in Xi’an city, an underground discovery of 8,000 statues of man-sized warriors, 520 horses, and 100 chariots were found guarding the tomb of “Qin Shi Huang” the first emperor of China. Scientists say those clay statues were made around 248 BCE. It’s a mesmerizing UNESCO world heritage site.
The Chinese Pyramids
Emperor’s “Qin” tomb isn’t the only burial place in Xi’an city. The city was considered sacred to the ancient Chinese. They called it “eternal peace” and built several Pyramids in Xi’an to house the emperors’ bodies in their journey to eternal peace. The Chinese Pyramids pretty much resemble the Egyptian Pyramids in keeping the bodies safe for the afterlife. So, you don’t have to visit Egypt to see a Pyramid!
The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River
It’s the biggest hydroelectric power-producing dam in the world. The former president “Sun Yat-sen” in 1919 thought of building a power source on the Yangtze. However, the project was opened in 2003!
The best way to the gorges is by a relaxing Yangtze River cruise. On reaching the three gorges, you’ll find available buses, escalators, and guides to take you around one of the greatest engineering buildings ever made.
Leshan Giant Buddha / Mount Emei
A 71-meter tall statue was carved in the stones of Mount Emei by orders of the Buddhist monk “Hai Tong” who was worried about the safety of the poor fishermen whose boats crashed due to the turbulence of the three rivers: Min, Qingyi, and Dadu Rivers.
The statue was built overlooking the meeting point of the three rivers to watch over the water and keep the people safe. The Leshan Buddha is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world.
With many Buddhist temples in the mountain, Mount Emei is considered a Buddhist holy site and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Plan on visiting the temples around and enjoy the landscape of the Qingying Pavilion, or start a hiking trip to the golden summit of the mountain. If your feet hurt, you can take cable cars on your way up.
Zhangjiajie Forest National Park – Hunan
In 2009, The movie director James Cameron shot his record-breaking “Avatar” in the Hallelujah mountains of the Zhangjiajie Forest. Since then, People call the famous site the “Avatar mountains”.
The park is a jaw-dropping greenery place with beautiful lakes, a huge dam, and a Chinese ethnic tribe with unusual traditions. For example, the bride must cry for 3 days before her wedding, the longer she cries the more beautiful of a wife she gets.
It’s about time to go shopping. In Shanghai, there’s a market for everything and everyone with a very reasonable price.
It’s a wonderful day for treasure hunting in the “City God Temple Market” which is full of Chinese antiques like the Chinese teapot and cups which are called the Gaiwan. It’s the perfect place for souvenirs and gifts.
Do you want to look fabulous for much less money?
The “Qipu Road Clothing Market” is the place for you with good deals on the latest fashion trends.
Looking for some quality fabrics or a fully customized suit made especially for you?
Pay the “Bund Fabric Market” a visit, don’t forget to haggle; you can save half of the asked price.
Meet The People
China has the highest population in the world with 1.4 billion people. However, China is a major economic powerhouse. China has a constant improvement in the employment structure despite the huge number of people living there.
New jobs are popping every day as a result of the evolving economy. In 2015, China announced that it has more than 526 different jobs with nearly none underemployed.
There’s an old saying referring to China: “There lies a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! For when he wakes up, he will shake the world.” We guess this prophecy came true with the Chinese economy.
There are 302 different languages in China; the most common is the standard Chinese also known as “Mandarin”.
Other languages are found only in particular territories like the “Wu” which is spoken only in Shanghai.
Mark Your Calendar
The Chinese New Year or The Lunar New Year usually starts between January 21 and February 20.
For this holiday, The Chinese decorate the streets with red lanterns and ribbons. Kids are given money in red envelopes. Feasts and celebrations last for 15 days. The lunar New Year is marked by a dragon dance and a huge parade. The legend says that around every new lunar year, a vicious dragon attacked the villagers but the ancestors used the red decorations to scare the beast away.
The Chinese usually wear traditional clothes at their festivals such as the “Tang Suit” for men and the “Qipao” for women.
The “Guoyue” music is often played at festivals and around markets. It’s the national music in China; it’s easy for your ears to recognize the Chinese music with the high pitched notes and the stringy instruments like the Guzheng, the Pipa and the Yangqin.
Take a bite
Bring your chopsticks and join our feast of Chinese food, It’s heart-whelming to the exten that it’s now eaten in every country all around the world.
Could you please set your fork and knife aside for now? The knife and fork stand for violence and fights in China, unlike the chopsticks that stand for gentleness and passion.
A worldwide famous Chinese dish. Noodles are starchy dough that’s shaped into spiral strings. Archaeologists found a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles reserved underground in the Lajia archaeological site.
There’s also an ancient book that described the Han Dynasty and mentioned the Noodles dish.
You’re literally slurping history!
Small bite-sized squishy stuffed dough with meat, or veggies. It can be fried, steamed or dropped in broth.
It’s believed that Dim Sums go back to 2,500 years ago; as the ancestors glorified them in an ancient Chinese poem.
A traditional Chinese snack of pastry filled with cabbage, shredded veggies and sometimes you can add pork or meat.
Spring Rolls go back to the Jin Dynasty as the ancestors ate them at the beginning of the spring, and called them the “dish of Spring”.
It’s believed that Prince “Liú Ān” of the Han Dynasty invented Tofu to help feed his toothless grandmother.
Another story goes with a cook who accidentally applied the cheese-making methods to soy milk. Anyway, it’s a delicious nutritious soybean curd that’s so easy to devour.
Dance On Water
The young dancer “Yang Liu” has practiced the Chinese “Duzhu Drifting” since she was 7 years old to keep the tradition alive. She performs the Chinese dance on a floating bamboo stick with the whole river as her stage. This tradition started thousands of years ago in the Chishui River as a method for transporting wood to the capital by water.
The Duzhu Drifting requires skill, flexibility, practice, and balance.
Please, don’t try this at home!
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