The people of China

A busy street in Shanghai

China's 1.35 billion people make up one-fifth of the world's population. In 2014, according to the World Bank, 54 per cent of Chinese live in urban areas and around 46 per cent in rural areas.

The majority of people in China are Han Chinese (92 per cent). There are also 55 other ethnic groups. In two parts of China – Tibet and Xinjiang – there is serious ethnic conflict.


China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is the second largest in terms of GDP, behind the USA. The Chinese economy is expected to be bigger than the US economy by 2020.

In China, the number of poor people has fallen rapidly in the last 50 years. 500 million people have been lifted out of poverty. This is a reduction from over 50 per cent to around 10 per cent of people in poverty or around 100 million depending on which definition of poverty is used. The number of wealthy Chinese has also risen rapidly. There are currently over 2.3 million dollar millionaires in China (Global Wealth Report, 2014).

Social change

Young Chinese women shopping

Chinese society has undergone massive social change in the last forty years. Millions of people have moved from rural to urban areas abandoning their traditional lifestyles. In many cities, skyscrapers dominate the skyline and Western brands fill the new shopping centres.

Millions of Chinese people today own consumer goods, such as cars, mobile phones and computers. This was unimaginable 40 - 50 years ago. Wealth in China has soared.