Tourist information China, including all the useful things to know before leaving for a trip or vacation in the People's Republic of China.
China in a nutshell
- Capital: Beijing
- Area in sq km: 9,536,499
- Population: 1,336,317,121 (2006)
- Religion: officially atheist, the main religions are: Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity.
Where is it
The People's Republic of China is bordered by the Soviet People's Republic and Mongolia in the north, North Korea in the north east, Vietnam, Laos and Burma in the south, Bhutan, Nepal and India in the south west. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to the north west.
To the east and south east it is washed by the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South Sea. More than 3000 islands scattered in the South China Sea are part of China (the largest is the Island of Hainan). The Chinese territory is mainly mountainous; the western and northern part of the country is made up of three regions: Tibet, Sinkiang and Inner Mongolia.
Tibet is a vast plateau located at over 4000 meters above sea level, bordered by two large mountain ranges, the Himalaia to the south and the Astyn Tagh to the north. The highlands of Sinkiang and Inner Mongolia are less elevated than Tibet.
The Sinkiang is formed by two depressions: that of Tarim and further north that of Zungaria (it was the gateway to China in the past centuries, from here passed the famous "silk road"). Between the two depressions rises the chain of the Tien Shan Mountains with peaks that exceed 7000 meters above sea level.
To the east of Sinkiang the plateau of Inner Mongolia (1000/1500 m. Altitude) ends in the eastern part with the Great Khingan mountain range, which dominates the Manchura plain, in the southern part it borders with grasslands and to the north with the vast desert of Taklimakan.
North Eastern and Eastern China includes the large and fertile plain of the Yellow River (Huang ho) and the plain of Manchura, while in the southern part fertile and water-rich plains are interspersed with long ridges of hills.
The Yangtze kiang (blue river) rivers, the great river of China, the Huang ho river (yellow river) and also rivers of the Indian Peninsula (Indo, Brahmaputra) and the Indochinese (Mekong, Saluen) are born in the Tibetan plateau.
The Amur River marks the border between China and the Soviet People's Republic for a long stretch.
Sikiang is another great river in China and is navigable for a good stretch.
The Tarim river flows through the Sinkiang from west to east and then gets lost in the Lop Nor desert, in fact many rivers of western China due to the strong aridity pour into basins where their waters evaporate or filter underground.Recommended readings
- Hong Kong: useful tourist information
- China: useful information
- Beijing: what to see in the forbidden city
- Great Wall of China: where it is, length km
- Chinese New Year: lantern festival
Next to the rivers, the most important lakes are to be remembered: Poyang Hu, Tungting Hu, Hungtze Hu and between the salt lakes, Lake Ching Hai.
The presence of the reliefs of Central Asia (in particular the Himalaya), its geographical position (eastern end of the vast Asian continent), the recovery of the summer monsoon up to high latitudes, are among the elements that influence the remarkable climatic variety of the vast Chinese territory, which can be classified in various ways.
The climate of Manchura and the eastern regions is cold temperate.
The winters are harsh and the summers hot with rainfall concentrated in the summer months.
Proceeding south you pass to a sub-tropical climate (tropical in the far south), with little seasonal temperature changes; summer monsoons bring rain and in the autumn the coasts on the South China Sea are often hit by typhoons.
Northern and western China has an arid climate, rainfall is scarce, winters are cold and summers very hot, as the action of the southern summer monsoons, deflected by mountain barriers (especially the Himalayas), affects only marginally the inland regions, which remain free from the effects of marine influences.
The Chinese population is represented by a very diverse ethnicity; over 92% belong to the Han ethnic group, in the remaining 8% 55 other ethnic groups are officially recognized.
In China it is necessary to move the clock hands 7 hours ahead of Italy, 6 hours ahead when daylight saving time applies in Italy.
The Chinese language includes very different dialects, but the official spoken language is the standard Mandarin whose pronunciation is based on the Beijing dialect and is known in China as Putonghua (common language).
China is experiencing a period of remarkable economic growth thanks to the increase in exports and to public and private investments.
The country can count on a reserve of manpower represented by a large number of active workers, but still has to overcome the big problem of social inequalities present in the population, especially the difference in income between the people of the cities and that of the countryside.
Furthermore, the country faces various environmental issues, including the degradation of natural resources caused by the model of economic development undertaken.
The agricultural sector, despite having available a not very large cultivable area (about 10% of the territory), occupies a large part of the population. The main agricultural products are: rice, wheat, oats, sugar cane, tobacco, cotton, tea.
Other resources are breeding (pigs, poultry, birds) and fishing. China is very rich in mineral resources. Noteworthy are the reserves of coal, oil and gas and the various metal resources as well as the hydroelectric potential.
In the industrial sector, heavy industry, which in the past has been the driving force of the economy, has given way to light industry in recent decades.
Heavy industry, which is concentrated mainly in the north-eastern part of the country, is present in the mining, metallurgical, iron and steel and chemical sectors. Among the sectors of the light industries we mention textiles, clothing, pharmaceuticals and electronics.
When to go
Considering the vastness of the Chinese territory it is difficult to indicate the best time to visit the country. In general, the spring and autumn months are recommended, in order to avoid the very harsh winter in the north and the abundant summer rainfall in the south.
To visit the regions of Tibet and Mongolia, the summer period is preferable. In central and southern China, especially in the Yangtze River basin, floods can occur in the summer with increasing rainfall.
It should be noted that in coincidence with national holidays, in particular the Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival), which falls between January and February, it is difficult to move around and almost all services are closed.
To enter China you need a passport with a residual validity of at least six months from the moment you arrive in the country.
An entry visa is required which must be requested (also through tourist agencies) from the Chinese consular diplomatic representations in Italy (Consular Section of the Embassy in Rome, the Consulate General of Milan or Florence).
In the case of only transit (documented by the air ticket and any visa for the country of destination), a visa is not necessary only if the stay on Chinese territory is less than 24 hours and you do not move away from the transit airport area.
During your stay in China, you are advised to carefully keep your passport and to bring with you the Chinese visa and copies of the relevant passport pages.
If your trip to mainland China also includes a visit to Hong Kong or Macau, you need to apply for a multiple entry visa.
No mandatory vaccination is required to enter China. Vaccination against yellow fever is required only from travelers from infected areas.
Malaria prophylaxis is recommended to visit Yunnan, Hainan and occasionally Guangxi (Plasmodium falciparum and P. Vivax malaria), but there is a risk (P. Vivax malaria) also in Fujian, Guangdong, Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang , (only in the extreme south east, along the valley of the Zangbo river), and a very low risk in the provinces of Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Shandong (affects altitude, latitude and time of year ).
Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria, poliomyelitis and meningitis are recommended.
It is also recommended to observe some hygiene rules: drink only bottled water and drinks without adding ice, do not eat raw food and vegetables, eat freshly cooked and not purchased food from street vendors, eat fruit only if peeled personally.
Before departure, it is important to take out international health insurance coverage.
The international prefix to call from Italy to China is: 0086 (for Hong Kong the prefix is 00852).
The international dialing code for calling from China to Italy is: 0039
The use of the internet is widespread, but the connection outside the most important cities can be slow.
In China you can use your mobile phone, even if some mobile phones have to unlock a function in order to be used in China.
It is preferable to use cell phones by using Chinese cards for charging, available in China at telephony centers, newsagents and other authorized shops.
The electric current is 220 V 50 Hz. The electrical outlets are of various shapes, so the appropriate adapter is required.
The official Chinese currency is the Renminbi (RMB), also called Yuan. This currency cannot be exchanged in Italy.
Credit cards are accepted only in major hotels and large shopping centers.
Withdrawals can be made to banks using the most popular credit cards, although waiting times may be very long in small towns.
ATMs authorized to withdraw are few. Traveller's checks are useful and can be exchanged in banks and also in the main hotels.
How to get
Various airlines connect Europe to China. From Italy, the Chinese flag airline Air China carries out direct flights from Rome Fiumicino to Beijing (Capial Airport) and from Milan Malpensa to Shanghai (Pudong).
We also list some companies that fly from Italy with a stopover in Europe: Klm via Amsterdam, Air France via Paris, Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Monaco, Finnair via Helsinki, British Airways via London, Aeroflot via Moscow, Austrian Airlines via Vienna, and others .
With the Chinese company China Southern Airlines it is possible to leave from the Italian airports covered by Klm and Air France, to stop in Amsterdam or Paris and then take the flight to China.
With Cathay Pacific, you can fly to Hong Kong and then use the various connections for China's domestic routes.
Passing from Russia you can reach Beijing by traveling by train on the longest railway line in the world, the mythical "Trans-Siberian".