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Modern Studies

Social and Economic Issues



China has a population of almost 1.5 billion.

People in China riding bicycles

92% are Han Chinese and the remaining 8% are comprised of around 55 minority ethnic groups.

Most of the population does not have any religious affiliation. Around 8% are Buddhist, 3% Christian and 1% Muslim.

China's main languages are Mandarin, Cantonese, Gan, Hakka, Hui, Jin, Min, Ping, Wu and Xiang.

China is divided into 23 Provinces (if you include Taiwan): Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan and Zhejiang.

There are five 'autonomous regions'; Guangxi, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Xinjiang and Xiizang (Tibet).

Most of China's population lives in its vast countryside. But urbanisation is proceeding rapidly. Indeed the move to the big cities has been described as the biggest movement of people in history. China's main cities are Shanghai (16.575 million), The capital Beijing (12.214 million), Chongqing (9.401 million), Shenzhen (9.005 million) and Guangzhou (8.884 million) (2009).

Average life expectancy is 72 for men and 75 for women. China's main health problems are respiratory diseases, Hepatitis B and road accidents.

Unemployment stands at around 4%.

Average annual salary is around £17,500, an enormous improvement from even the mid 1990s. China is one of the most unequal countries in the world. There are vast inequalities between the urban elite and the rural poor. Within China's major cities, incoming workers often have to work for very low wages. There are estimated to be at least 100 million people who are part of China's 'floating population'.


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