Arguably the most well known Asian country in the world, China is not only economically strong, but also incredibly rich in culture, traditions and history. Contrary to popular belief, China has very diverse groups of people and is actually said to be a microcosm of Asia. There are many other cultural sites and types of cuisine across the country, as well as indigenous groups; a visit will surely deepen your knowledge of this incredibly culturally rich land. You can visit the open portion of the Forbidden City, temples and museums like the one that displays the Terracotta Army. You will never be able to learn enough about China or see enough of the land, because it really is incredibly rich and diverse. However, one visit will change all of your preconceptions about China and the Chinese and leave you awestruck at the nation’s beauty.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts About China
- China is the fourth largest country in the world (after Russia, Canada, and the U.S.). It has an area of 3,719,275 square miles (slightly smaller than the U.S.) and its borders with other countries total more than 117,445 miles. Approximately 5,000 islands lie off the Chinese coast.
- China’s Grand Canal is the world’s oldest and longest canal at 1,114 miles (1,795 km) long with 24 locks and around 60 bridges.
- The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were the most expensive games in history.b While the 2004 Athens Games were estimated to cost around $15 billion, the Beijing Games were estimated to cost a whopping $40 billion.
- Hangzhou is renowned as China’s “paradise on earth” owing to its beautifully crafted landscape.West Lake was created after the Chinese love for garden-style parks for recreation. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands, and hills.
- The summit of Mt Everest marks the border between China and Nepal.
- China has the fourth longest river in the world, the Yangtze River, which reaches 5,797km (3,602 miles) in length. It also has the sixth longest, the Yellow River, stretching 4,667km (2,900 miles).
- The Bund is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. It showcases the world with its colonial European buildings and skyscrapers the other side of the Huangpu, housing one of the world’s foremost business districts.
- One of the iconic symbols of China, the Great Wall isthe longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. It deserves its place among “the New Seven Wonders of the World” and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. The wall spans from China’s western frontier to the east coast, totaling around 5,000 km (3,100 miles), but the most integrated and best preserved sections are close to Beijing. So this is what people usually mean when mentioning the Great Wall of China.
- The Terracotta Army has laid underground for more than 2,000 years. However, in 1974, farmers digging a well uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. In 1987 it became World Cultural Heritage. It is significant because the hundreds of detailed life-size models represent the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period (475–221 BC), and who were the decisive factor in forming a united China.
- The Forbidden City was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties for 560 years till 1911. 24 emperors lived there. World Cultural Heritage, and now known as ‘the Palace Museum’ among Chinese, it is a treasure house of Chinese cultural and historical relics. It was once a “palace city” where ordinary people were forbidden entry. An extravagant demonstration of ancient Chinese architecture, over 8,000 rooms with golden roofs are elegantly designed and painted in red and yellow.
- The Li River was listed as one of the “World’s Top Ten Watery Wonders” by America’s National Geographic Magazine. Several world famous figures have visited the Li River, including former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush (senior), and Bill Gates.
- The Yellow Mountains are the most famous peaks in China, and one of China’s three best national parks — the other two being Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park. Compared to the two other national parks, Yellow Mountain National Park is easier to access, and, naturally, more popular and busy.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts About China
- Dyeing pets to look like other wild animals is a trend in China.
- Pencils are yellow because, in the 1890’s, the world’s best pencil graphite came from China. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty, so American pencil manufacturers started painting their pencils yellow to indicate they contained high-quality Chinese graphite.
- Tickling was a form of torture used in ancient China on nobility because it left no mark and recovery was quick.
- In some parts of China, “pigtails” were associated with a girl’s marital status. A young girl would wear two pigtails, and when she married, she would wear just one. This may have contributed to the Western view that pigtails are associated with children and young girls.
- Famous Chinese and Chinese-American actors include Jackie Chan (Hong Kong), Chow Yun Fat (Hong Kong), Bruce Lee (San Francisco), Jet Li (Beijing), Zhang Ziyi (Beijing), and Lucy Lui (New York).
- China uses 45 billion chopsticks per year.
- Reincarnation is forbidden in China without government permission.
- Catsup was originally made in China, not as a tomato-based condiment but as a pickled fish sauce call ke tsiap.
- In China, over 35 million still live in caves.
- The sunrise in parts of China can be as late as 10 am because the country joined its five time zones into a single one.
- In China, you can major in Bra Studies.
- A new skyscraper is built in China every five days.
Historical and Cultural Facts About China
- China is often considered the longest continuous civilization, with some historians marking 6000 B.C. as the dawn of Chinese civilization. It also has the world’s longest continuously used written language.
- Fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom. They were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco.
- Toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s. It was for emperors only.
- The Chinese invented paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing.
- The Chinese invented kites (“paper birds” or “Aeolian harps”) about 3,000 years ago. They were used to frighten the enemies in battle, and Marco Polo (1254-1324) noted that kites were also used to predict the success of a voyage. It was considered bad luck to purposely let a kite go.
- Cricket fighting is a popular amusement in China. Many Chinese children keep crickets as pets.
- Many historians believe soccer originated in China around 1000 B.C.
- Giant Pandas (“bear cat”) date back two to three million years. The early Chinese emperors kept pandas to ward off evil spirits and natural disasters. Pandas also were considered symbols of might and bravery.
- Chinese alchemists successfully used man-carrying tethered kites by the fourth century A.D. Parachutes were not used safely and effectively in Europe until the late 1700s.
- The custom of binding feet (euphemistically called “golden lilies”) began among female entertainers and members of the Chinese court during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Tightly wrapped bandages gradually broke the arch of the foot and caused the woman’s toes and heel to grow inward toward one another. Her leg muscles would also atrophy and become very thin. Bound feet were seen as highly sexual.
- In A.D. 130, Zhang Heng, an astronomer and literary scholar, invented the first instrument for monitoring earthquakes. The machine could detect and indicate the direction of an earthquake.
- China invented ice cream, and Marco Polo is rumored to have taken the recipe (along with the recipe for noodles) back with him to Europe.