China was a leading civilization for centuries. It was ahead of the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was set back by civil unrest, famines, military defeats and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under Mao Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that imposed strict controls over everyday life. Tens of millions of people died. After 1978, Zedong's successor, Deng Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development. By 2000, output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically, and the room for personal choice has expanded. Yet, political controls remain tight.
China is located in eastern Asia. It borders the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea and South China Sea.
1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
11.1% (2006 est.)
4.2% official registered unemployment in urban areas in 2005; substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas (2005)
Yuan, also referred to as the Renminbi