China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with over 1.35 billion people. The PRC is a one-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing.  It exercises juristriction over 22 provinces; five autonomous regions; four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai  and Chongqing); two mostly self-governing special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau; and claims sovereignty over Taiwan.

Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is the world’s second largest country by land area.  China’s landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest stopes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China’s coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.

China is a cradle of civilization, with its known history beginning with an ancient civilization – one of the world’s earliest – that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties. Since 221 BCE, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC) replaced the last dynasty in 1912, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949, when it was defeated by the Communist Party of Chinain the Chinese Civil War. The Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with its present capital in Taipei. Both the ROC and PRC continue to claim to be the legitimate government of all China.

China had the largest economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies. As of 2014, it is the world’s second-largest economy by nominal total GDP and largest by purchasing power parity. China is also the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world’s largest standing army and second-largest defence budget. The PRC has been a United Nations member since 1971, when it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BCIM and the G-20. China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential, if not already, superpower.

Places in China

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Irrawaddy with APT and a Luke Nguyen

Luxury cruise operator APT has unveiled artist impressions of the interiors of its new boutique rivership, the RV Samatha (pronounced Sa-ma-ta), in its latest Burma River Cruising 2016/17 brochure. As well as offering a range of sizes all suites are positioned on the outside of the ship to ensure all guests enjoy either a panoramic or twin balcony. Glossy dark …

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Heritage re-name Irrawaddy New Build

One of my most anticipate new builds for 2015, cruising the Irrawaddy (Ayerarwady), has been re-named out of respect for religious connotations. Now Heritage Line’s new luxury paddle-wheeled vessel, scheduled to commence sailing on the Ayeyarwady River in October of 2015 will be named the ‘Anawrahta’. As advised by the Government of Myanmar, formally Burma, to respect any ethnic minorities …

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Pandaw opens up Laos Mekong cruises

Directly from Pandaw : Luxury river expedition company Pandaw River Expeditions has announced a ten-night Laos Mekong sailing on its newest ship the RV Laos Pandaw. The journey will commence on November 1, 2015, and offer guests the chance to travel deep into the Laos mountain, traverse rapids and gorges and visit local tribal villages and Buddhist temples along the …

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Sanctuary Ananda delivered

Luxury cruise and safari operator Sanctuary Retreats has taken delivery of its new boutique river cruise ship Sanctuary Ananda ahead of schedule. Such is the strength of demand for Sanctuary Ananda from both trade and consumers that Sanctuary Retreats has also announced that the 2016 programme for the Sanctuary Ananda will go on sale earlier than originally planned, and will …

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South-east Asian cruises: Traveller’s Guide

Drifting along the Irrawaddy or the Mekong, or further out at sea, is an adventurous way to see this region’s most exotic corners, says Caroline Hendrie. Cruising in South-east Asia has traditionally meant a trip along the Mekong River. But today’s adventurous boat traveller is increasingly spoilt for choice with sea and expedition cruises, plus river trips along blossoming Burma’s …

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