Travel Alert Status
Level 3: Reconsider Travel
UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time) note; despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone
The country lies almost entirely in the temperate zone. Only Hainan Province and the southernmost portions of Yunnan and Guangdong Provinces and the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi lie within the tropics. A monsoon climate is a major influence in the south. The north and west have a typical continental climate, although winters are extremely dry and summers quite rainy.
During summer, warm, moist, maritime air masses bring heavy rains to eastern China, and hot, humid, summer weather is typical. Winter offers a sharp contrast when cold, dry Siberian air masses dominate and often reach the southern provinces. Little precipitation falls during the colder months; clear days with low humidity and low temperatures are the norm.
Standard Chinese (putonghua), based on the Mandarin dialect, is the national language and is spoken by more than 70 percent of the population. Other dialects are also spoken, including Wu (in Shanghai), Min, Yue (Cantonese), and Kejja. Each of the 55 minorities speaks its own language or dialect. In some cases, education and all official transactions may be conducted in the local minority language. Chinese does not have a phonetic alphabet; it uses characters to express words, thoughts, or principles. A Romanized alphabet Pinyin is used to help teach Chinese in school and for international communication. Even though there are over 50,000 characters in the Chinese alphabet, only about 8,000 are actually in use. The Chinese language requires that one knows 1,500 to 2,000 characters to be considered fluent in the language.
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages
Note: Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)
Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uighur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5%
National Day (anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October
35 00 N, 105 00 E
Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam