China has long back shed the skin of Maoism. It is a geographical marvel in itself. It is a destination that ideally demands a free spirited attitude - where one is totally beyond the writs of a set itinerary. After all there is a lot to discover beyond that Great Wall!!
Several attractions await you, like the Summer Palace of Beijing, The Great Wall Of China, the cruise on the Yangtze River. The sparkling cities like Beijing, Macau, Shanghai and Xian, all are unbeatable in their cultural wealth, architectural legacies, and a proud amalgamation of Portuguese, Dutch, British influences. If you are ready for a different recipe - Taste the adventure at Karakoram Highway which is an easy entry into Pakistan or the Long-gong caves. Or even tread the silk route through Turpan. There is so much to China that at times it seems that one life time is not enough. Nevertheless let's begin. Right now.
China is a very diverse place with large variations in culture, language, customs and economic levels. Indeed, it has 56 officially recognized ethnic nationalities, 55 of which enjoy affirmative action for admission to university, exemption from the one-child policy and other benefits. The economic landscape is particularly diverse, although only 10% of all land is arable. The major cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai are rich and modern. However, more than half the population, some 800 million rural residents, still farm with manual labor or draft animals. The government estimates for 2005 report 90 million living on under ¥924 (US$112) a year; 26 million were under the official poverty line, ¥668 (US$81) a year; the poorest are well below that.
Area 9,596,960 km2
Language national: Mandarin (Putonghua) regional: Wu (Shanghaiese), Cantonese (Yue), Mindong (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages
Time UTC 8
Beijing | Guangzhou | Guilin | Hangzhou | Kunming | Nanjing | Shanghai | Suzhou | Xi'an
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