China Travel Information

The national language is Putonghua (the common speech) or Mandarin, which is one of the five working languages at the United Nations. Most of the 55 minority nationalities have their own languages. Cantonese is one of the local dialects of southern China. As a written language, Chinese has been used for 6,000 years.

China is made up of 56 ethnic groups. The Han people make up 91.02 percent of the total population, and the other 55 national minorities 8.98 percent. They are Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyi, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, Wa, She, Gaoshan, Lahu, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Jingpo, Kirgiz, Tu, Daur, Mulam, Qiang, Blang, Salar, Maonan, Gelo, Xibe, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu, Ozbek, Russian, Ewenki, Benglong, Bonan, Yugur, Jing, Tatar, Drung, Oroqen, Hezhen, Moinba, Lhoba and Gelo. All nationalities enjoy equal status according to the Constitution. The State protects their lawful rights and interests and promotes equality, unity and mutual help among all nationalities.

Chinese family names came into being some 5,000 years ago. There are more than 5,000 family names, of which 200 to 300 are popular. In Chinese names, family names comes first and given name second. For example, in the case of Deng Xiaoping, Deng is the family name, Xiaoping the given name. The most popular Chinese family names are ZHANG, WANG, LI, ZHAO, LIU, CHEN...

China has 50,000 rivers that cover a catchment area of at least 100 square kilometers, and 1,500 of them cover a catchment area of more than 1,000 square kilometers. Most of the rivers flow from west to east to empty into the Pacific Ocean. The main rivers include the Yangzi (Changjiang), the Yellow River (Huanghe), Heilongjiang, the Pearl River, Liaohe, Haihe, Qiantangjiang and Lancang Rivers. At 6,300 kilometers long, the Yangzi is the longest river in China. The second longest is the Yellow River at 5,464 kilometers. The Grand Canal from Hangzhou to Beijing is a great water project in ancient China. 1,794 kilometers in length, it is the longest canal in the world.

China is a multi-religious country. Buddhism, Taoism and Islam are the three major religions. Catholicism and Protestantism have smaller but substantial followers too. Different ethnic groups usually follow different religions. Islam is followed by the Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tatar, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan peoples; Buddhism and Lamaism are followed by the Tibetan, Mongolian, Dai and Yugur nationalities; Christianity is followed by the Miao, Yao and Yi nationalities; Shamanism is followed by the Oroqen, Ewenki and Daur nationalities; and the majority Han nationality believes in Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.

With a broad area, China has a very complex topography. The outline descends step by step from the west to the east. Mountains and hilly land take up 65 percent of the total area. There are five main mountain ranges. Seven mountain peaks are higher than 8,000 meters above sea level. The Bohai Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and South China Sea embrace the east and southeast coast.

Chinese Money is called Renminbi (RMB) (means "People's Currency"). The popular unit of RMB is Yuan. The official exchange rate between U.S. Dollar and RMB Yuan currently is about 1 : 6.3 (1.00 Dollar = 8.30 Yuan). 1 Yuan equals 10 Jiao, and 1 Jiao equals 10 Fen. (There are parts of China the Yuan is also known as Kuai, and Jiao is known as Mao.) Chinese currency is issued in the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, fifty and a hundred Yuan; one, two and five Jiao; and one, two and five Fen.

AC 220 V, 50 Hz (bathrooms of many luxury and medium-grade hotels may have 110-volt sockets).

TELEVISION SYSTEM: PAL (In addition to Chinese language TV broadcast, English and Japanese TV programs are available in many hotels via satellite relay. China Central Television Station (CCTV) and some local TV stations also provide English news and other programs in English.)

Mainland China 86; Hong Kong 852; Taiwan 886. (Special Telephone Numbers: Police 110; Fire 119; Emergency 120.)

Kailash Yatra 2013 Departure