China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a unitary sovereign state in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles), it is also the world's second-largest country by land area and third- or fourth-largest by total area, also has the most neighbor countries in the world. Governed by the Communist Party of China, it exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, also claiming sovereignty over Taiwan.
China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In 3rd century BCE, Qin has unified core China and establised the first Chinese imperial dynasty. The succeeding Han dynasty had witnessed some of the world's most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking, compass and etc, along with agricultural technique improvement and medicine research. The invention of gunpowder and printing in Tang dynasty has completed the Four Great Inventions in history. The culture of Tang spread widely in Asia, while the new maritime Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Somalia. In 1912, the Republic of China (ROC) replaced the last dynasty as the ruler of Chinese mainland as the result of Xinhai Revolution. After victory to Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War, ROC was defeated by the communist People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War. The Communists established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 21 September 1949, while the ROC government retreated to Taiwan, continue claiming whole China as its territory.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing. As of 2016, it is the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a member of the United Nations, as it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1971. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BCIM and the G20. China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential superpower. [more]