It's always nice to know a bit about a country before traveling there. That's why I put together these 97 fun facts about China. let me know which of these things about China you found most interesting in the comments!
97 fun facts about China
This post is part of a series of fun facts posts I'm doing for every country I have articles about here on the blog. Given their nature, these posts are research-based and even though a lot of time has gone into them, it's still possible a mistake has snuck in. If you see something that looks incorrect, please let me know at wanderer [at] wonderfulwanderings.com and I'll look into it. Thanks!
1. Each year in China is represented by an animal – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This is known as the Chinese Zodiac, and the animals rotate based on a 12-year cycle. 2018 is the year of the dog.
2. How did these 12 animals come to be the signs of the Zodiac? The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people. The rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and monkey are all loved by the Chinese people.
3. The animals are arranged in their recurring order based on the Chinese principle of Yin and Yang. The Yin and Yang arrangement is based on the odd or even number of each animal's claws (or toes, hoofs). The animals are arranged in an alternating odd/even sequence (i.e. Rabbit (4 toes/limb) followed by Dragon (5 claws/limb), followed by Snake (0 limbs).
4. People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, and this is often used to determine romantic compatibility.
5. The Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and lasts approximately 15 days – from the new moon occurring between the end of January and the end of February until the next full moon arrives.
6. The Forbidden City in Beijing is a palace complex, complete with over 9,000 rooms, filled with artifacts, history, and culture!
7. The Forbidden City is 720,000 square meters (or 180 acres). For reference, that's twice the size of the Vatican in Italy and three times the size of the Kremlin in Russia.
8. The Forbidden City is a UNESCO World Heritage site and only one of three ancient palaces still standing in China.
9. The Forbidden City sees approximately 14 million visitors annually, making it China's single most popular tourist attraction, so be prepared to wait in a few lines!
10. Make sure to try Peking Duck while in Beijing. It's a traditional imperial dish, that originally was made in the kitchens of the palace where Forbidden City chefs created unique menu items for emperors.
11. No need to hold a Visa to visit The Forbidden City, or Beijing for that matter. The city offers a 72 hour Visa free transit policy for passport holders of certain countries.
12. What's the most popular souvenir to bring home from Beijing? Calligraphy brushes and ink pads!
13. Have you heard that Beijing has bad air? The situation has been improving, yet breathing the air there for 6 full days is the same as smoking one cigarette. Make sure to stay up to date on the air pollution levels for the days you are visiting.
14. Beijing is on track to be the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympic Games. The summer games took place in 2008, and the city is currently preparing for the 2022 winter games.
15. China's National Stadium where the games take place, known as the Bird's Nest, is “one of the key engineering marvels in the world today.” It is the world's largest steel structure and the most complex stadium ever constructed in the world.
16. China's famous Great Wall has a fascinating (and edible) binding material. The mortar used to bind the stones was made with sticky rice!
17. So how long is the Great Wall of China? The official length is 21,196.18 km (13,170.7 mi), but today's relics are those from the Ming Dynasty Great Wall at a length 8,851 km (5,500 mi).
18. Despite what you may have heard, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space with the naked eye.
19. When to visit (or perhaps not visit) the Great Wall of China? The first week of May and October see upwards of 70,000 visitors daily in the most popular section of the wall known as Badaling.
20. From 1966-1976, during China's cultural revolution, bricks from the wall were removed to be used in the building of farms, homes and reservoirs.
21. The Great Wall of China was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1987, giving it protection.
22. After hiking up and along the Great Wall, you can either walk back down, or take roller coaster carts at Mutianyu. Former First Lady Michelle Obama has ridden a roller cart down at this location.
23. If you're a runner, add the Huangyaguan Great Wall Marathon to your bucket list. It's a challenging course along the Great Wall and attracts runners from around the world. It is often listed as one of the top 10 coolest marathon runs on earth.
24. If you think you've got big eyebrows, wait until you check out China’s Leshan Giant Buddha. This stone statue has 5.5-m-long eyebrows!
25. The Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest carved stone Buddha in the world, taking 90 years to create!
26. The Leshan Giant Buddha also holds some unique architectural artistry. The Buddha's hair is made of 1,021 giant buns embedded in the head. Also, a drainage system of hidden gutters and channels found throughout the head and arms, behind the ears and in the clothes exists to divert rainwater from the statue.
27. China is about the same size as the continental USA.
28. Despite the country being so large, it only uses one time zone.
29. China is divided into 34 units: 24 provinces, 4 municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing), 5 autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang) and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong, Macau).
30. Autonomous regions in China are areas where the minority ethnic population is higher than other areas. The 5 autonomous regions have their own local governments, like the provinces, but they also hold higher legislative say.
31. Special Administration Regions (SARs) have the highest degree of autonomy from the Central Government and Communist Party of China. Both SARs have their own governments, legislative bodies, police forces, monetary systems, etc.
32. Hong Kong is comprised of 200 islands and is about 420 square miles (six times the size of Washington DC).
33. Hong Kong was formerly a British colony.
34. More than 7 million people call Hong Kong “home”.
35. Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world.
36. Hong Kong also has the most Rolls Royce’s per person than anywhere else in the world.
37. There are enough hills on the island of Hong Kong that the central district actually has outdoor elevators.
38. If you love modern technology and design, check out the Tsing Ma Bridge. It is the world’s longest road and rail suspension bridge making it a true Hong Kong landmark.
39. China is a huge country loaded with different landscapes. You can find everything from mountains and high plateaus to sandy deserts, thick forests, and coastal waters.
40. One-third of China's landmass is composed of mountains.
41. Mount Everest, the tallest mountain peak on the planet at 29,029 feet tall is found on the border of China and Nepal.
42. Climbers will find two main routes to the summit of Mount Everest: the south-east ridge from Nepal and the north ridge from Tibet.
43. Two men – Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa – are tied for the most successful summits of Mount Everest. Both have looked out from the highest point on the Earth 21 times each!
44. For most climbers, it takes multiple days to reach the top of Mount Everest. Italian mountaineer Hans Kammerlander set the record of fastest ascent from Tibet to the top in just 16 hours and 45 minutes!
45. A Buddhist Lama and two or more monks perform a ceremony known as the Puja Ceremony to seek permission for safe passage before climbers begin their ascent up Everest.
46. The Chinese people call Mount Everest Qomolangma, which means “Mother Goddess of the Earth.”
47. Mount Everest is called the tallest peak on the planet because another mountain, Mauna Kea in Hawaii is actually 4436 feet taller. The difference is that most of Mauna Kea is actually underwater, with only 13,796 feet above sea level.
48. The youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest is Jordan Romero, at the age of 13. Nepal and China have since put into law that climbers must be at least 16 years old, with no maximum age cap.
49. The summit of Mount Everest is the official marker of the border between China and Nepal.
50. The beautiful black and white Giant Panda is native to China, living in the central mountains of the country where thick bamboo forests grow. It is the only place on earth these animals exist in the wild.
And another 50 facts about China
51. The Giant Panda is an endangered species, with only about 1,800 left in the wild. There is good news though – the population has increased by 17% since the 1970's due to conservation efforts.
52. Giant Pandas LOVE bamboo, which is why they thrive in China. Bamboo accounts for 99% of their daily diet, with an occasional small animal or fish thrown in.
53. China is the country with the world's largest population, at about 1.4 billion people, with approximately half of the people living in China's cities.
54. Tea is the national drink of China.
55. The 5 main types of Chinese teas are green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, white tea, yellow tea, and dark tea.
56. Have you ever tried Dark Tea? This 16th century originated beverage is a post-fermented tea, which undergoes a fermentation process aided by bacteria.
57. Chinese green tea is the oldest and most popular type of tea in China. Records show it has been consumed there for several thousand years.
58. Tea symbolizes loyalty, love, and happily married life in Chinese weddings because tea trees cannot be transplanted – they will only grow and sprout from a seed.
59. Tea sets in China aren't just porcelain. They can be made of pottery, lacquer, glass, metal, enamel, and wood/bamboo. Each type of material is thought to affect the flavor of the tea, and therefore, each is used for specific reasons.
60. The Chinese people can be accredited with the inventions of items such as paper, the magnetic compass, printing, tea porcelain, silk, and gunpowder.
61. China is the world's largest silk producer, using the silk of the mulberry silkworms.
62. In the beginning, the secret of spinning silk was so valuable that anyone who told another person how to do it could be killed.
63. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), based on the philosophy of a balance with nature, has been used in China for over 2,100 years.
64. TCM Hospitals are not completely traditional in today's society. They often use Western instruments and blood work to determine a diagnosis and then patients can opt for herbal or Western treatments.
65. Ice cream originated in China, as early as 3000 BC. The original recipe consisted of milk, rice, and snow.
66. Chinese use chopsticks to eat food instead of knives or forks.
67. Have you ever wondered how chopsticks came to be? In 400 AD, chefs began to chop food into small, bite-sized pieces to conserve cooking fuel. Original chopsticks were utensils used to reach into hot cooking pots to stir food, but soon they became the perfect item to eat those little morsels too.
68. Confucius also helped in the spread of chopstick popularity. As a vegetarian, he felt sharp utensils would remind eaters of the slaughterhouse and violence at the dinner table. Chopsticks instead helped keep a calm spirit at the table.
69. Wheat noodles are the staple food in northern China and rice is the staple in the south.
70. When dining out, tips are not expected in Chinese restaurants as the fee is included in the food prices.
71. Fortune cookies are not part of Chinese culture. They were invented in 1920 in the USA.
72. Chinese food has the largest variety of flavors. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy must be balanced.
73. Unlike other world cuisines, soup is part of the last course in China. It is thought that it helps with better digestion.
74. If you travel for food, head to China's Fujian province. It is known for Fujian cuisine or Min cuisine, one of the native Chinese cuisines and is highly ranked for its dishes.
75. If you must take a break from eating, do not put your chopstick into your bowl vertically. This resembles the Chinese traditional funeral tribute, which involves placing a chopstick inside a bowl of rice vertically.
76. Food in Shanghai is often sweeter than foods you will find around the rest of the country and more sugar is consumed here than in other areas of China.
77. Shanghai’s favorite delicacy is a dish of hairy crabs
78. Shanghai had humble beginnings as a fishing village, but then in A.D. 1292, the Yuan Dynasty established it as a country.
79. Shanghai is currently the world's largest city, with 24 million people living in the city proper and a metropolitan population of 35 million.
80. Shanghai boasts the longest metro system in the world beneath the city with 365 miles (588 km) of tunnels and track and 364 stations.
81. The Shanghai dialect, known as Shanghainese, is only 70% intelligible for standard Mandarin speakers.
82. Shanghai is another city in China you can visit Visa-free! Spend 144 hours in the city as a passport holder of certain countries.
83. Shanghai played a unique role in history. An estimated 20,000 Jews came through the ports from 1937 to 1939 to flee the Nazis. Some passed through, on their way to the Americas, Palestine, or Australia, but about 90% stayed.
84. China is officially an atheist country, but the most practiced religions are Buddhism, Chinese folklore, Taoism, and Confucianism.
85. Chinese history is marked by dynasties, indicating periods when a line of emperors ruled. The first emperor was part of the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. and the last emperor was overthrown in 1912, when China became a republic.
86. Another interesting thing about China is that it's home to the Three Gorges Dam – the largest man-made dam in the world spanning the Yangtze River.
87. Another fun fact about China is that toilet paper was invented there. It is recorded to have been in use as early as the 6th century AD. Originally, it was only used by emperors.
88. The Chinese were the first to learn how blood circulates in the body way back in the 2nd century B.C.
89. China is considered to be the oldest civilization with some historians marking 6000 BC as the beginning.
90. Considering it's such an old civilization, it shouldn't be surprising that China has the world's longest-used language.
91. In 2003, China joined the United States and Russia, becoming the third country in the world to successfully send a person to space.
92. Many Chinese keep crickets as pets, and in fact, cricket battling is a popular form of entertainment in China.
93. Yeren, or “wild man,” is the Chinese version of Bigfoot. Yeren supposedly lives in the mountainous forested regions of the Hubei Province.
94. If you put all of China's railway lines together, they could wrap around the world two times.
95. In Chinese mythology, the dragon is the first among the four greatest creatures, along with the phoenix and tiger. This is why it is so often depicted in Chinese art and celebration.
96. China's calendar is the oldest in the world and takes sixty years to complete.
97. Martial arts are world-renowned and originated in China. They were developed from ancient farming and hunting methods.
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed these trivia about China.
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