Chinese F1 Grand Prix
09.04.2017 | Shanghai - Shanghai International Circuit
Location: East Asia.
Area: 9,596,960 sq km (3,705,407 sq miles).
Population: 1,349,585,838 (2013).
Population Density: 140.6 per sq km.
Government: People's Republic. China comprises 23 provinces (China considers Taiwan its 23rd province), five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities directly under central government.
Geography: China is bordered to the north by Russia and Mongolia; to the east by Korea (Dem Rep), the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea; to the south by Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Nepal; and to the west by India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. China has a varied terrain ranging from high plateaux in the west to flatlands in the east; mountains take up almost one-third of the land. The most notable high mountain ranges are the Himalayas, the Altai Mountains, the Tian Shan Mountains and the Kunlun Mountains. On the border with Nepal is the 8,848m (29,198ft) Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest). In the west is the Qinghai/Tibet Plateau, with an average elevation of 4,000m (13,200ft), known as 'the Roof of the World'. At the base of the Tian Shan Mountains is the Turpan Depression or Basin, China's lowest area, 154m (508ft) below sea level at the lowest point. China has many great river systems, notably the Yellow (Huang He) and Yangtze River (Chang Jiang, also Yangtze Kiang). Only 10% of all China is suitable for agriculture.
Language: The official language is Mandarin Chinese. Among the enormous number of local dialects, large groups speak Cantonese, Shanghaiese (also known as Shanghainese), Fuzhou, Hokkien-Taiwanese, Xiang, Gan and Hakka dialects in the south. Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang, which are autonomous regions, have their own languages. Translation and interpreter services are good. English is spoken by many guides and in hotels. Many taxi drivers do not speak English, even in big cities.
Religion: China is officially atheist, but the stated religions and philosophies are Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. There are 100 million Buddhists and approximately 60 million Muslims, 5 million Protestants (including large numbers of Evangelicals) and 4 million Roman Catholics, largely independent of Vatican control.
Time: GMT + 8. Despite the vast size of the country, Beijing time is standard throughout China.
Social Conventions: Cultural differences may create misunderstandings between local people and visitors. The Chinese do not usually volunteer information and the visitor is advised to ask questions. Hotels, train dining cars and restaurants often ask for criticisms and suggestions, which are considered seriously. Do not be offended if you are followed by a crowd; this is merely an open interest in visitors who are rare in the remoter provinces. The Chinese are generally reserved in manner, courtesy rather than familiarity being preferred.
The full title of the country is 'The People's Republic of China', and this should be used in all formal communications. 'China' can be used informally, but there should never be any implication that another China exists. Although handshaking may be sufficient, a visitor will frequently be greeted by applause as a sign of welcome. The customary response is to applaud back. Anger, if felt, is expected to be concealed and arguments in public may attract hostile attention.
In China, the family name is always mentioned first. It is customary to arrive a little early if invited out socially. When dining, guests should wait until their seat is allocated and not begin eating until indicated to do so. If using chopsticks, do not position them upright in your rice bowl as the gesture symbolises death. Toasting at a meal is very common, as is the custom of taking a treat when visiting someone's home, such as fruit, confectionery or a souvenir from a home country. If it is the home of friends or relatives, money may be left for the children.
If visiting a school or a factory, a gift from the visitor's home country, particularly something which would be unavailable in China (a text book if visiting a school, for example), would be much appreciated. Stamps are also very popular as gifts, as stamp-collecting is a popular hobby in China. A good gift for an official guide is a Western reference book on China.
Conservative casual wear is generally acceptable everywhere and revealing clothes should be avoided since they may cause offence. Visitors should avoid expressing political or religious opinions.
Photography: Places of historic and scenic interest may be photographed, but permission should be sought before photographing military installations, government buildings or other possibly sensitive subjects.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin and three-pin sockets are generally in use. However, most 4 to 5 star hotels are also wired for the use of 110 volt appliances.
Head of Government: Premier Li Keqiang since 2013.
Head of State: President Xi Jinping since 2013.
Recent History: China is governed by the National People's Congress (NPC), the nation's president and premier of the People's Republic, and the heads of individual ministries. The NPC is held every five years and attended by some 3,000 delegates drawn from provincial administrations, the military and various state organs.
While China's political infrastructure remains solid, its social and economic foundations are shifting rapidly. Having opened up to the world in the 1990s, and joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, China's economy has benefited from significant inflows of foreign investment, so much so that China is now the largest holder of US government debt and owns the largest foreign exchange reserves of any nation in history. Socially, China is now searching for a new identity. Having hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and with the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou on the horizon, China's urban population is more globalised than at any point in history, and is seeking to combine a penchant for global brands into several millennia of Chinese history and culture. It is also more confident and nationalistic than ever, with events like 2008's first spacewalk by a Chinese astronaut and the development of the world's fastest train (Shanghai Maglev) and longest cross-sea bridge (Hangzhou Bay Bridge) evoking enormous national pride - and setting expectations that the Middle Kingdom is destined to become the world's next superpower.