China Demographics

What is the population of China?

Population 1,416,043,270
Population: Male/Female male: 722,201,504

female: 693,841,766
Population Growth Rate 0.23%
Population Distribution overwhelming majority of the population is found in the eastern half of the country; the west, with its vast mountainous and desert areas, remains sparsely populated; though ranked first in the world in total population, overall density is less than that of many other countries in Asia and Europe; high population density is found along the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys, the Xi Jiang River delta, the Sichuan Basin (around Chengdu), in and around Beijing, and the industrial area around Shenyang
Urban Population urban population: 64.6% of total population

rate of urbanization: 1.78% annual rate of change

note: data do not include Hong Kong and Macau
Population in Major Urban Areas 29.211 million Shanghai, 21.766 million BEIJING (capital), 17.341 million Chongqing, 14.284 million Guangzhou, 14.239 million Tianjin, 13.073 million Shenzhen
Nationality Noun noun: Chinese (singular and plural)

adjective: Chinese
Ethnic Groups Han Chinese 91.1%, ethnic minorities 8.9% (includes Zhang, Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai, and other nationalities)
Language Note Standard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry); note - Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uyghur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uyghur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)

China Learning

What is school like in China?


Schools in China are an interesting mix of modern and very old thinking. The government is investing heavily in education, but many of the buildings are quite old. Sometimes there is no heating system in the school, even though the temperature might get close to freezing! Still, the students carry on in their disciplined way, determined to do their very best.

Schools are beginning to have modern computers installed as the government has chosen to enter the modern world. In fact, the Chinese government even bought an entire division of IBM, the large computer company, which makes Lenovo laptop computers that are sold throughout the world.

Though the subjects studied and the methods used to teach those subjects are becoming more open, old ways often persist. For example, teachers used to be the rulers of the classroom and were very strict. Now, many students consider them to be more like friends who are introducing them to a world of learning. But the students still have to memorize large amounts of material and do learning exercises over and over and over because that’s how the teachers learned to teach—and once were only allowed to teach in that way!

At lunchtime, students will eat a light lunch of either egg rolls or pot stickers, which are dumplings stuffed with meat or shrimp. At some schools, students will take a nap around noon time for 30 minutes or so after eating. Then they are back in class until around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.

Education Culture

China has more people than any other country in the world, so educating that many children can be very challenging. In former years, the government spent very little money on education. Even as recent as the year 2000, perhaps as many as two million children were unable to go to school. However, China’s economy, and to some extent the politics, are changing very rapidly and becoming more open to nontraditional ways of learning. In the past, the school system was very strict. The government told the teachers what to teach, and the teachers told the students what to learn. Although students worked very hard to get good grades, there were not many opportunities for educated people to get good jobs, and often the very educated were considered menaces to the very strict government. On the other hand, education was one of the only ways to change one’s life from being one of the millions of people forced to become communal farmers and rise above being so very poor.

Gradually, China is seeing clearly that education is a way to improve life—not only for individuals and their families but for the entire nation. In the first years of the reform, local businesses who wanted to improve life for their community would finance most of a school’s expenses. As the government has also joined in big business and is making much more money than before, they are doing more to improve the schools and pay the teachers better. In turn, in their efforts to change the system, teachers are no longer forcing students to learn only what the government wants them to learn; instead, they are teaching the children to be creative, to solve problems, to choose what they want to study and then become the very best at it. But one thing has not changed: Chinese students are very competitive in school, and children study very hard to become the best in their class.


Chinese students are traditionally very good at memorizing information and understanding how things work. Thus, they are often very good at mathematics, history, and the sciences. But creativity and open discussion can be challenging. The schools and the children’s parents are not used to having such freedom in how the children learn, so it is sometimes difficult to break old habits.

Children in China study very hard. Class begins by 7:00 a.m., although some schools are experimenting with letting their students sleep an extra half hour or so and beginning later. It is also not unusual for schools to stay open until as late as 11:00 p.m. for some of the older grades so children can get extra help to learn their subjects better. And children begin early for school. In the 1990s, parents complained that from the age of 4 or 5 the children have no free time and suffer from sleeplessness and depression. Many were unable to tie their shoes or dress themselves, but 90% could play the piano and 70% could recite Tang Dynasty poetry. Some adjustments have been made, but they still feel the pressure to succeed in school.

Another fact that students outside of China might find interesting is the strong sense of community that surrounds a school. The children not only study at the school, they also help to maintain it by helping to clean the floors and the desks in each classroom as well as other simple chores. To be a student means studying very hard, but it also means working hard to make sure there is a good place to study.

Children begin school at the age of 6 or 7. Primary school lasts for six years, and the children study Chinese, geography, history, math, music, science, painting, physical fitness, and political education. Similar to schools in the United States, after elementary school, middle school will last another three years, in which they will study many of the same subjects they studied in elementary school plus biology, chemistry, physics, law, English, and perhaps another foreign language. Another three years are then spent in high school. The first nine years of school are now required for all Chinese children.

To School

Most students attending public schools do not have much money and live in large dormitories at the schools. They come home only on the weekends to work during the day and study at night. The majority of Chinese children will walk where they need to go or ride on packed commuter buses with adult workers. If they are fortunate and the family has a little money, they may be able to get a bicycle when they get a little older. Only the wealthy will get a ride to private school and back home with their parents, usually on their way to work in the morning and home in the evening.

China Population Comparison

China Health Information

What are the health conditions in China?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 78.7 years

male: 76 years

female: 81.7 years
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 7.7
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births total: 6.2 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 5.6%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 2.23
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 4.3
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, severe fever thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS)

soil contact diseases: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 97.3% of population

rural: 91.5% of population

total: 95.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.7% of population

rural: 8.5% of population

total: 4.9% of population
Tobacco Use total: 25.6%

male: 49.4%

female: 1.7%
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 23
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 84.5%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.55
Gross reproduction rate 1
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 6.2%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 97.6% of population

rural: 90.6% of population

total: 94.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.4% of population

rural: 9.4% of population

total: 5.1% of population
Underweight - percent of children under five years 2.4%
Alcohol consumption per capita total: 4.48 liters of pure alcohol

beer: 1.66 liters of pure alcohol

wine: 0.18 liters of pure alcohol

spirits: 2.63 liters of pure alcohol

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol
Child Marriage women married by age 15: 0.1%

women married by age 18: 2.8%

men married by age 18: 0.7%
Currently married women (ages 15-49) 75.9%

China Life Expectancy

How long do people live in China?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 78.7 years

male: 76 years

female: 81.7 years
Median Age total: 40.2 years

male: 39 years

female: 41.5 years
Gross reproduction rate 1
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 84.5%
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.2 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 23
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.55

China median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 10
Median Age total: 40.2 years

male: 39 years

female: 41.5 years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -0.1
Population Growth Rate 0.23%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.14 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female
Age Structure 0-14 years: 16.3% (male 122,644,111/female 107,926,176)

15-64 years: 69.3% (male 505,412,555/female 476,599,793)

65 years and over: 14.4% (male 94,144,838/female 109,315,797)
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 84.5%
Gross reproduction rate 1
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.2 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 23
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.55

China Medical Information

What are the health conditions in China?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those in the United States. If you plan to travel outside of major Chinese cities, you should consider making special preparations.

Travelers have reported difficulty passing through customs inspection when arriving with large quantities of prescription medications. If you regularly take over-the-counter or prescription medication, bring your own supply in the original container, including each drug's generic name, and carry the doctor's prescription with you. Many commonly-used U.S. drugs and medications are not available in China, and some that bear names that are the same as or similar to prescription medications from the United States may not contain the same ingredients or may be counterfeit. If you try to have medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting them released by Chinese Customs, and/or you may have to pay high customs duties.

Reuse of medical supplies such as syringes and needles or poor sterilization practices are problems in China, contributing to the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis, which is endemic in China. To avoid contamination, travelers should always ask doctors and dentists to use sterilized equipment and be prepared to pay for new syringe needles in hospitals or clinics.

In emergencies, Chinese ambulances are often slow to arrive, and most do not have sophisticated medical equipment or trained responders. In most parts of China, helicopter evacuations are not commercially available. Many travelers choose to take taxis or other vehicles to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for ambulances to arrive. Most hospitals demand cash payment or a deposit in advance for admission, procedures, or emergencies, although a few hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and a few other large cities have medical facilities with some international staff. Many hospitals in major Chinese cities have so-called VIP wards (gaogan bingfang). Most VIP wards provide medical services to foreigners and have some English-speaking staff. However, even in the VIP/foreigner wards of major hospitals, you may have difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. In China, it is customary for patients' families to help care for them in the hospital and to supply their toiletries, paper supplies, and meals. Hospitals often refuse to perform surgery or administer treatment without the written consent of the patient's family, even if they are not in China, and doctors frequently will only tell the family members the patient's diagnosis and prognosis, but will not discuss it with the patient. Physicians and hospitals sometimes refuse to give U.S. patients copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and x-rays.

Mental health facilities or medications are not widely available in China. If you are traveling to or studying abroad in China, before you go, put a plan in place for managing your mental health.

In most rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are available, often with poorly trained personnel who have little medical equipment and medications. Rural clinics are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.

If you elect to have surgery or other medical services performed in China, be aware that there is little legal recourse to protect you in case of medical malpractice. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general in China maintain lists of local English-speaking doctors and hospitals, which are published on their respective American Citizens Services web pages.

Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. If you plan to travel in these areas, you should seek medical advice in advance of travel, allow time for acclimatization to the high altitude, and remain alert to signs of altitude sickness. Air pollution is also a significant problem throughout China, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you. You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. Please note that the CDC recommends that travelers to China ensure that their polio vaccinations are up to date. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Tuberculosis is also an increasingly serious health concern in China. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.

HIV is a significant concern in China. An estimated quarter of a million people in China are living with HIV, most of whom are not aware of their status.

ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is widely practiced in China and a number of government-licensed clinics perform the procedure. Surrogacy, however, is strictly forbidden under Chinese law, and surrogacy contracts will not be considered valid in China. The use of reproductive technology for medical research and profit is strictly controlled in China. In February 2013, the Chinese Ministry of Health launched a crackdown against unlicensed fertility clinics and underground fertility treatment programs.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


China Education

What is school like in China?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 3.6%
Literacy - female 95.2%
Literacy - male 98.5%
Literacy - total population 96.8%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years

China Literacy

Can people in China read?

Literacy - female 95.2%
Literacy - male 98.5%
Literacy - total population 96.8%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write

China Crime

Is China a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

When visiting China, you should always take routine safety precautions and pay attention to your surroundings. Petty theft remains the most prevalent type of crime encountered. Pickpockets target tourists at sightseeing destinations, airports, crowded subways, markets, and stores. Make sure you guard your passport and wallet, as most incidents tend to involve items kept in back pockets, backpacks, or bags/purses swung over a shoulder or set down in a taxi, another vehicle, a restaurant, or a shop.

Narcotics-related crimes and use are also on the rise in China. Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs, and they periodically conduct widespread sweeps of bar and nightclub districts, targeting narcotics distributors and drug users. Expatriates from various countries have been detained in such police actions.

Con artists targeting visitors are also common in popular tourist sites. A common scam involves younger Chinese "English students," often women or a couple, offering a local tour and an invitation to tea at a nearby restaurant. When the bill comes, the restaurant owners force victims to pay an exorbitant bill before they can leave the premises.

Taxi drivers, especially at airports, sometimes target arriving travelers, refusing to use the meter or claiming they are a limousine and can charge higher fares. Always have the name of your destination written in Chinese to show the driver, and get a receipt when you arrive at your destination. It is a good practice to keep valuables such as purses, camera bags, and computer cases next to you or in your lap rather than in a less-accessible area of the taxi. Ask the driver to remove the bags from the trunk before you get out of the taxi and before you pay, so he cannot drive away with your luggage.

Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law. Some U.S. citizens report that items purchased, even at state-owned or museum stores, believed to be antiques or genuine gems are later determined to be reproductions.

Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China. Cab drivers and businesses have given many people, not just tourists, counterfeit currency. Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you. Some merchants will switch a large bill with a counterfeit bill and return it to you, claiming that you passed them the counterfeit bill. If you must pay with RMB 100 bills, it may be useful to note the last few serial numbers before paying in case they get switched. There have been cases of people receiving counterfeit bills from free-standing ATMs. Use only ATMs at financial institutions or those recommended by your hotel.

Political protest is not legal or permitted in China and is rarely encountered by foreigners. Travelers who have attempted to engage in political protest activities in public places have been deported quickly, in some cases at their own expense, usually before the U.S. Embassy is aware of the situation.

Participating in unauthorized political activities or protests against Chinese policy in China may result in lengthy detentions and may impact your eligibility for future visas to visit China. Foreigners engaging in pro-Falun Gong or pro-Tibetan activities have been detained or immediately deported from China, usually at their own expense, after being questioned. Several reported they were subject to interrogations and were physically abused during detention. In addition, some alleged that personal property, including clothing, cameras, and computers, was not returned.

U.S. citizens have been detained and expelled for distributing religious literature. Chinese customs authorities have enforced strict regulations concerning the importation of religious literature, including Bibles. If you bring religious literature with you, it should be a "reasonable amount" for your personal use only. If you attempt to bring larger quantities, the literature will likely be confiscated and you may be fined, detained, or deported.

China Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in China, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in China, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not wherever you go.

China gives the police the authority to detain and deport foreigners for a wide variety of reasons, including engaging in prohibited religious activities and soliciting prostitutes. If you do not have your passport with you, you may be taken in for questioning. China has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol that can lead to immediate detention on a criminal charge.

If you are arrested in China, the U.S.-China Consular Convention requires Chinese authorities to notify the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate general of your arrest within four days. Typically, the police will not allow anyone other than a consular officer to visit you during your initial detention period, including your family or even an attorney. Bail is rarely granted in China, and you can be subject to detention for many months before being granted a trial. Please see the section on DUAL NATIONALITY for the limits on consular notification and access in the cases of persons who hold dual nationality.

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