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State Emblem of ChinaFlag of China China
People’s Republic of China






Currency: yuan (Y) = 10 jiao.
Dialing code: 86.
Time: Local time is GMT +8.
Local time now:

Region: East Asia.
Capital: Beijing (Peking).

Main cities : Shanghai (industrial and commercial capital), Wuhan, Tianjin, Shenyang, Guangzhou.
Land and Resources: China is bordered by Mongolia and Russia to the north; Russia and North Korea on the northeast; the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea to the east; the South China Sea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), India, Bhutan, and Nepal on the south; and Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan on the west, with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakstan lying to the northwest. China includes more than 2,900 offshore islands, of which Hainan is by far the largest. Mountains occupy almost half of China’s land surface; the rest is mountainous plateaus and basins. Tian Shan mountain chain. Takla Makan Desert, the driest desert in Asia. The Manchurian Plain The Central Mountains. The high, mountain-rimmed plateau of Tibet. The Himalayas, the Pamirs and Karakorum, the Kunlun and Qilian Shan. Salt lakes Major rivers include the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangzi, and Huang He (Yellow River).
Climate: Extremely diverse; tropical in south, desert in the northwest and subarctic in north.
Government: People’s Republic. China comprises 22 Provinces, five Autonomous Regions, two Special Administrative Regions and four Municipalities directly under Central Government. Head of State: President.
Population: China’s population is the largest of any country in the world. Han Chinese constitute the majority of the population. About 55 ethnic minority groups.
Languages: The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.
Religion: China is officially an aetheist country. Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, and Christians all practice their religions.
1 October - National Day
1 January – New Year
January or February - The Chinese New Year celebration (the Spring Festival)
5 March - Jing zhe (Ching Che or the Feast of Excited Insects)
8 March - International Women’s Day
1 May - Labour Day
8 September - International Literacy Day
28 September - The Birthday of K’ung Fu-tzu (Confucius) (Teacher’s Day)
24 October - United Nations Day
12 November - The Birthday of Sun Yat-sen
15th day of the first lunar month - the Lantern Festival
5th day of the fifth lunar month - the Dragon Boat Festival
15th day of the eighth lunar month - the Mid-Autumn, or Moon Festival

Visa: A passport and visa are required by US, UK, South African, Irish nationals, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders. If on business a visa can be obtained on arrival, but this is not recommended. Those travelling in an officially registered tour group from Hong Kong or Macao to travel to the Zhujian Delta in Guangdong Province, arriving and departing through specified points, may stay a maximum of six days without a visa. Visa applications should be made at least a month prior to departure for China. Passports must be valid for at least six months for a single or double entry visa and at least nine months for a multiple entry visa. Visas are granted only for the points of entry indicated in the passport. All documents necessary for further travel and sufficient funds to cover intended period of stay are required. Care should be taken when reading dates on visas for China (People's Rep.) as they are written in year/month/day format.
Customs regulations: The following items may be imported by passengers staying less than 6 months without incurring customs duty: 400 cigarettes (600 cigarettes for stays of over 6 months); two bottles (up to 75cl) of alcoholic beverages (four bottles for stays of over 6 months); a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use. Prohibited items include arms and ammunition, pornography, radio transmitters/receivers, exposed but undeveloped film, fruit and certain vegetables (tomatoes, aubergines and red peppers), political and religious pamphlets. Any printed matter directed against the public order and the morality of China. Customs officials may seize audio and videotapes, books, records and CDs to check for pornographic, political or religious material. Baggage declaration forms must be completed upon arrival noting all valuables (such as cameras, watches and jewellery); this may be checked on departure. Receipts for items such as jewellery, jade, handicrafts, paintings, calligraphy or other similar items should be kept in order to obtain an export certificate from the authorities on leaving.
Transportation: All major transport facilities are state owned. Individuals travel by train, bicycle, or bus. Domestic air travel is available, but it is expensive and not always reliable. In some areas, people travel by river barge or ferry. Roads between cities are often in poor condition.
Sightseeing: Beijing encompasses numerous attractions of cultural and historical interest, of which some, such as the Great Wall, former Imperial palace (known as the Forbidden City), the Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and the remains of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, are UNESCO-endorsed World Cultural Heritage Sites. The city abounds in imperial palaces, temples, mansions, gardens and tombs that epitomise classical Chinese architecture. It has 120 museums and more than 100 public gardens.
Shanghai has some temples and gardens to visit along with an excellent museum.
Hangzhou is known for its scenic beauty (tagged 'Paradise on Earth') with two scenic resorts: the West Lake and another section encompassing the Fuchun River and Thousand-Islet Lake dotted with ancient tombs, monasteries and temples.
Xi’an is one of China’s major tourist attractions: The Terracotta Army Museum.
Pride of China’s Islamic community is the Great Mosque near the Drum Tower in the Muslim residential area.
Tibet, 'the roof of the world' is the land of majestic mountains, exotic culture and gentle people.
Money: Make sure you exchange your left-over Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments; it is wise to check first.
Communications: The internal telephone system is very antiquated. Visitors should note that most numbers are not listed with their city code and, unlike most countries, the number of digits in Chinese phone numbers is not fixed; it can be as few as six and as many as ten. When making a call outside the country it is often easier and cheaper to dial AT&T on 10811. Mobile phone networks are fairly advanced, operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most non-North American international operators. In hotels, local calls are generally free or will be charged only a nominal fee. Internet cafes are available in most main towns.
Shops and cafes: Shops are open from 9:00 to 19:00 every day. State-run restaurants often close by 20:00.
Tipping: Gratuities are not permitted and are generally considered an insult.
Health and safety: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from infected areas. There is a risk of malaria throughout the low-lying areas of the country. Outbreaks of SARS in Guanghzou, Anhui province and Beijing in recent months are officially over, but travellers are warned to remain vigilant for this viral disease. A new outbreak of Avian influenza in poultry was confirmed in Anhui Province. Travellers should avoid all contact with live poultry. Altitude sickness can occur in the mountainous regions of Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan. Outside city centres, visitors should only drink bottled water. Western-style medical centres with international staff are available in the major cities and usually accept credit cards. Health insurance is recommended. China is generally safe. Serious crime against foreigners is rare but does occur, particularly in isolated or sparsely populated areas. If trekking alone it is advisable to leave an itinerary and expected time of return with a third party. Travellers should take extra care in street markets and at tourist sites, which attract thieves and pickpockets, and around the popular expat bar areas at night where lone foreigners have recently been attacked.
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plug types vary but the two- narrow-pin type are most common. Adapters are generally required.
Important phone numbers:
Fire - 119
Police – 110
Ambulance – 120
China Consulate General
539 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills
NSW 2010 Sydney
Tel: + 931 90678
Chinese Embassy
Oeregaards Alle 25 2900 Hellerup
Tel: + 45 394 60889
Fax: + 45 396 25484
Chinese Embassy
11, avenue George V
75008 Paris
Tel: + 33 1
Fax: + 33 1
Russian Federation
Chinese Embassy
ul.Druzhby, 6
Tel: + 00 7095 147 9500
Fax: + 00 7095 938 2132; + 00 7095 143 6740
United Kingdom
Chinese Embassy
49-51 Porland Place
W1N 4JL London
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7636 9375/5726
United Nations
People's Republic of China (Mission: Geneva)
11, chemin de Surville 1213, Petit-Lancy
Tel: + 41 41 22 7922548
Fax: + 41 41 22 7937014
China (Mission: New York)
350 East 35th Street
N.Y. 10016 New York
China Embassy
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
20008 Washington D.C.
Tel: +1 202 328 2500
Fax: + 1 202 588 0032

Encarta World Atlas

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