When you travel to China, you will definitely get a culture shock. Despite the country being on the cutting edge of innovation, Chinese culture and traditions are still quite unique.
Here’s a list of 25 basic facts about China to introduce you to the nation’s greatness.
1. Longest Continuous Civilization in the World
China is one of the four ancient civilizations in the world alongside Babylonia, Egypt and Mayan. It is said that the rest of the world’s population is off-shoots of these four civilizations. China also has one of the longest continuous civilizations in the world dating back over 40 centuries.
2. Leading Innovation
The Chinese invented paper, silk, printing, tea porcelain and the magnetic compass among other things. Silk weaving was such a secret procedure at one point in time that anybody who passed on the information was liable to the death penalty.
3. Arts and Crafts
The Chinese were the first people to use silk, jade, bronze, wood and paper to create art. They also invented and mastered the art of calligraphy which was one of the four arts mastered by a Chinese scholar, alongside playing the guqin (a Chinese string instrument), playing the strategy game of Go, and Chinese painting.
4. Historic Food
Some of the oldest archeological evidence of food was found in China. In 2005, archeologists discovered a 4,000 year old pot of noodles. Recently they unearthed a 2,400 year old pot of soup from a soldier’s tomb in Xian. (Another wild popular Chinese dish is the dim sum.)
5. Inventors of Ice Cream
Ice cream originated in China in 2,000 BC. 7thcentury Tang Dynasty Emperor had 94 ice men dedicated to making him ice cream. It was created by mixing ice with rice snow.
6. The Terracotta Army
Emperor Qin Shi Huang created a clay army of 8,000 soldiers to guard his tomb. It took over 37 years to build. The archeological remains of the Terracotta Army pose as a huge tourist attraction in Xian along with other historical monuments.
7. Long Eye-Browed Buddha
The Giant Leshan Buddha stone statue was built in 803 AD. It depicts Maitreya (a Buddhistva) in a sitting posture. The statue has 5.5 m long stone eyebrows and 1,021 buns in its coiled hair.
8. China’s Mount Everest
The highest mountain peak in the world is located in China. It is situated on the border between China and Nepal.
9. The Great Wall of China
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Wall was built to protect the empire form invasion and to protect the silk route. The mortar used to construct the structure was made using a mixture of sticky rice and slaked lime. Researchers credit the Wall’s strength and durability to the rice.
10. Construction Industry Leaders
China has led the construction industry since ancient times. A Chinese construction company built a 57 story tall building in just 19 working days. The building has 800 apartments, 19 atriums and office space for 4,000 people.
11. Forbidden City
China is also home to the largest ancient palatial structure in the world, The Forbidden City. It is China’s best preserved imperial palace. The structure features over 9,000 rooms and took 14 years to build. Many people travel to China to visit the imperial living and governing quarters, the imperial garden and valuable artwork.
12. Toilet Paper for Royalty Only
The great number of palatial structures present in China today is a testament to the luxurious life Chinese Emperors led. In 1,300 BC, the Chinese invented toilet paper that only the emperors were allowed to use.
13. Educational Innovation
Ancient China was much more advanced than other civilizations in Astronomy, Science, Math, Technology and Poetry. In the Tang Dynasty, educated individuals extended greetings with original poems. Much of China’s modern beliefs and philosophies are based on the teachings of a government official from 3,000 years ago named Confucius. He taught people concepts of morality, kindness and education.
14. Most Populous Nation
Today China is the most populated country in the world. One out of every five people on earth is Chinese. Mandarin is the most widely spoken first language in the world.
15. Varied Geographical Composition
China spans over 5,000 kilometers from east to west and 5,500 kilometers from south to north. Its geographical landscape comprises of mountains, high plateaus, deserts, dense forests and low lands. The diverse geographical and climate composition provides an ideal habitat for a lot of flora, fauna and animal species
16. Home to All Sorts of Animals Species
Central China is home to the giant panda, which is an endangered species numbering around 1,800 only. Over 3,800 species of fish and hundreds of amphibians and reptile species reside in the rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
17. Oldest Calendar
The Chinese Lunar Calendar is the oldest known calendar in the world. It is still used in the country. An animal represents each of the 12 months in the Chinese calendar and each Chinese year is also represented by an animal.
18. Chinese New Year
During the Chinese New Year around 3 billion people fly to their hometowns to celebrate the occasion with their families. Chinese New Year celebrations span over 15 days. People set off fire crackers to drive off evil spirits, pay off their debts, and begin the year by enjoying a feast with their families.
19. Hongbao – Red Packet
The red packet is a key element of the Chinese New Year. The elders give money in a red envelope to the young ones. The color red is considered lucky and is thought to bring good fortune. The entire country is decorated with hues of red during the festival season.
20. Descendants of Dragons
Many Chinese emperors believed they were descendents of dragons. Dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese folklore and myths. They symbolize power and strength, and are thought to bring good luck. Dragon dances and dragon kites are an integral part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
21. Stone Forest
A cluster of rock pillars in Shillin, China – the Stone Forest is a rock formation unlike any other in the world. It stretches for 500 km2 and it’s registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
22. Police Geese
Police in some parts of rural China use guard geese instead of dogs because of their amazing sense of hearing and eyesight.
23. Shanghai Tower
The Shanghai Tower is 2,073 feet tall making it the second tallest building in the world and another monumental tourist destination.
24. Nature Reserves
China established its first nature reserve in 1956. By 2016 the country had over 2,700 reserves. Establishing these protected areas is part of China’s strategy to conserve biodiversity worldwide.
25. Fortune Cookies
Even though they are largely associated with Chinese culture, fortune cookies did not originate in China. The cookies actually originated in San Francisco.
The Chinese are exceedingly polite and smart people. Chinese innovations have played an important part in mankind’s evolution. It is said that even soccer’s origins can be traced back to the Chinese sport Cuju. A country with a history and culture as rich as China,is definitely worth a visit.