China is an intriguing country with a rich history and fascinating culture. It is famous for its megacities, economic prowess, diverse natural beauty and diverse culinary heritage. Being one of the world’s largest countries with one of the world’s oldest civilizations, there are some remarkable things to know about the country. Ready to learn more? Here are some interesting facts about China that you might not have known.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About China
1. China is the most populous country in the world
China is home to around 1.44 billion people. This makes it the most populous country in the world. More people live in China than in South America, Europe (excluding Russia), the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.
2. The largest single time zone area in the world is in China
China is the fourth-largest country by area in the world. However, it only has one single time zone. China once had five time zones. These were in use from 1912 to 1949. However, nowadays the whole country officially uses Beijing time. This can be a little bit strange when you are in Xinjiang where sometimes the sunsets at midnight and rises at 10am. In Urumqi, some 3,218km to the west of Beijing, the stars are still out when it is 7am.
3. China is home to the longest canal in the world
The world’s longest canal or artificial river is the Jing–Hang Grand Canal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site starts in Beijing and flows 1,776km (1,104 miles) to the city of Hangzhou. Some parts of the canal date back to the 5th-century B.C., making it not only the longest but also the oldest canal in the world.
4. Tea originated in China
Legend has it that in 2732 B.C. a servant was boiling water for Emperor Shen Nung when, unbeknownst to the servant, leaves from a wild tree blew into the boiling water. When the Emperor drank the water he liked the pleasant taste and from then on put leaves in his hot water and tea was born.
5. China is home to the longest man-made structure in the world
With a total length of about 13,170 miles (21,196km), the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. The Great Wall of China is over 2,300 years old and was built over the centuries by six different Chinese dynasties. This UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t one continuous structure. It consists of smaller pieces, all built during different eras in history. The longest section is approximately 2,145 miles (3,452km).
6. China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations
China is one of the four ancient civilizations, along with Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient India. With over 3,500 years of written history and documentation, China has the longest continuous history of any country in the world.
7. In China, millions of people live in caves
It is estimated that over 35 million people in China live in caves. Caves are cheaper to build, easy to keep cool in summer and to keep warm in winter. Cave dwellings are most common in the Shaanxi province where the porous soil can be easily dug. When Chinese President Xi Jinping was a teenager, he lived in a cave in the village of Liangjiahe during the Cultural Revolution.