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Physical geography:
China located on East Asia and West coast of the Pacific, China covers a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers, which is 6.5% of the global land-areas. She is the largest country in Asia in area as well as one of the largest in the world.

China measures 5200 kilometers from the confluence of the Heilongjiang River and the Wusuli River in the east to the Pamirs in Xinjiang in the west, crossing more than 60 degrees in longitude and with a time difference of over 4 hours between the two points, and 5500 kilometers from the Zengmu Reef of the Nansha Islands in the south, to the central line of the Heilongjiang River north of the Mohe River in the north, overlapping 50 degrees in latitude. China is the country in the world with the widest coverage in both longitude and latitude.

China has a land border of about 22,800 kilometers in length, and the continental coastline of 18,000 kilometers. She has over 5000 islands on her vast territorial waters, among which Taiwan Island with an area of 36,000 square kilometers is the largest one, and the Hainan Island encompassing 34,000 square kilometers second only to it. They both are provinces of China.

China has varied topography with mountains, highlands and hills accounting for about 65% of the country's total land area. Her land sloping gradually from west to east can be roughly divided into four areas with gradual decreases in elevation.

Area 1: The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in South-West China is known as the "Roof of the World" at over 4000 meters above sea level. Mount Qomolangma, the highest peak in the world, is at 8846.27 meters above sea level. The Plateau covered with a great number of high mountain iceberg, is a fabulous scenic spot for mountain explorers and tourists.

Area 2: 1000-2000 meters above sea level on an average, and mainly encompassing the undulating Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the Loess Plateau crisscross with gullies and ravines, the rippling Inner Mongolian High-Land and the Sichuan Basin with lush mountains and exquisite waters, the Tarim Basin where the vast desert is found, the Zungar Basin with vast grasslands etc. The snow-capped mountains, the basins, the grasslands and the desert of this area are good locations of nature for human beings to return to.

Area 3: This area comprises of hilly lands and plains at less than 1000 meters above sea level. It includes the North-East China Highland, North China Plain, and the plains on middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. These plains adjoining hilly lands, flat and vast are China's principal farming zones. The Area has proper temperature, fertile soil, dense population, convenient communication, numerous historical sites and scenic spots and well-developed tourist industry as well.

Area 4: An extension of the Continent into the sea: The shallow seas of continental shelf and islands. The numerous beautiful sea-beaches are an ideal place to go to for vacations.

China has a good number of rivers with a total length of some 220 thousand kilometers. The Yangtze River, 6300 kilometers long, is China's largest river and one of the world's longest rivers as well. Next to it is the Yellow River with a length of 5,463 kilometers. Originating on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, most of the major rivers have great drops in elevation. Therefore, China is abundant in water resources, and ranks first in the world, with a reserve of 680 million kilowatts of electricity power.

China has a varied climate and a marked monsoon climate. The South-East China adjacent to the sea is endowed with a humid climate with plenty of rainfall and small variation in temperature. The North-West China far away from the sea, has very dry weather with little rainfall and big temperature variations. China is the country in the world with the widest coverage of areas by the monsoon climate, in addition to the marked difference in climate from area to area. From north to south, China is divided into 6 temperature zones:- equatorial tropical, subtropical, warm temperate, temperate and cold temperate. Her varied topography with big difference in elevation between East China and West China has great bearing upon climate. Generally speaking, an increase of 1000 meters in altitude means a drop of 6 degree Celsius in temperature.

Natural Resources:
China has various kinds of mineral resources scattered about over a wide area. The deposits of wolfram, tin, molybdenum, antimony, mercury, lead, zinc, iron, coal, sulphur, phosphorus, asbestos, graphite, fluorspar, siderite etc. stand among the forefront in the world. China also holds an important position in resources of copper, manganese, boron, rock salt, talcum, kaolin etc. and abounds in reserves of petroleum, chromium, nickel, titanium and a variety of rare and precious metals.

China has a vast area of shallow seas as well as a lot of rivers and lakes with abundant aquatic resources, and is one of the countries with the largest output of fish. There are over 1500 species of sea fish and 500 species of freshwater fish in China.

China has a forest coverage of 12%. Half of her forests are located on the Greater Xingan Mountains in North-East China and on natural forest areas in southwest China. In China there are as many as 7000 types of xylophyta and nearly 3000 species of arbor. Yunnan is the province of China with the richest resource of plants, while Taiwan with the greatest variety of trees. China also comes out first with the types of wild animals in the world. Among them, over 100 are rare and precious animals including Grand Panda, golden monkey, North-East China tiger etc.

Population and Ethnic groups:
China is the most populous country in the world. According to statistic her population reached 1.22 billion by the end of 1996 (excluding those of Taiwan Province, Hong Kong and Macao), and accounts for 22% of the world's total. Her urban population makes up 26% of the country's total while rural population 74%.

China is a multi-culture country, with 56 ethnic groups. Among them, the Han accounts for 92% of the total population, and the rest 55 ethnic groups, 8%, known as ethnic minorities. The Han has their own spoken and written dialect, which is the common language of today's China. The Han dialect is also used by Manchu and Hui minorities, while the other 53 minorities use their own dialects, 23 of them have their own written languages.




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