• With an area of 9.6 million square kilometres, China is the fourth-largest country in the world and the most populous nation on earth, with around 1.35 billion people. Of these, 92 percent are of the Han ethnic group, with the remainder comprising about sixty minorities such as Mongols, Uyghurs and Tibetans.

The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity, though the country is officially atheist.

China’s longest river is the Yangzi (6275km) and the highest peak is Qomolongma – Mount Everest (8850m) – on the Nepalese border.

The Chinese Communist Party is the sole political organization, and is divided into Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. The chief of state (President) and the head of government (Premier) are elected for five-year terms at the National People’s Congress.

• After decades of state planning, the economy is now mixed, with nationally owned enterprises on the decline and free-market principles ubiquitous.

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