China

China For Kids

China is an interesting country with a huge population and a fascinating history. Over one billion people live there – and we’ve got some of coolest, wackiest and wild facts about China that will amaze you. Enjoy!

This is a country steeped in ancient history and civilizations that were around way before many! Why not start learning about some of the amazing history of China.

China map

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History of China

  • China has a long history and is home of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It’s only become a modern nation in the last 20 years, but unbelievably it has changed faster than any other country in the world.

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  • Ancient China was a land of inventions. For centuries, they were way ahead of most other countries in science and technology, astronomy, and math. They invented heaps of things including paper, the magnetic compass, printing, porcelain, silk, and gunpowder.

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  • China is often considered the longest continuous civilization, with some historians marking 6000 B.C. as the beginning of Chinese civilization. It also has the world’s longest continuously used written language.

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  • Chinese history is all about dynasties. Each dynasty shows a period when a certain line of emperors ruled. The very first empire was the Qin dynasty and began in 221 B.C. The last emperor was defeated in 1912, and China became a republic.

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  • They also invented toilet paper in the late 1300s, but you only got this luxury if you were an emperor!

china buddha

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  • The Chinese invented kites about 3,000 years ago. Amazingly they were used to frighten enemies in battle. It was considered bad luck to purposely let a kite go.

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  • In A.D. 130, a man by the name of Zhang Heng invented the first instrument that could monitor earthquakes and could show the direction it was heading in. Pretty cool.

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  • The first known species of Homo erectus, the Peking Man, was found in China and lived between 300,000 to 550,000 years ago. It is thought that he knew how to manipulate fire. It would be interesting to know how they knew that!

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  • Do you ever make Chinese lanterns? Well they’re really awesome but they originate as far back as 250 B.C. Wow. They were a very important symbol of long life and they were used to show families wealth. The bigger the lantern the richer they were. So best you get making a massive Chinese lantern.

chinese lantern

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  • In 1974, a group of farmers uncovered some very old pottery. What they’d actually discovered was the tomb of Qin (259-210 B.C.) who was the first emperor who united China. The tomb contained thousands of amazing life-sized soldiers, horses, and chariots. Wow that must have been some sight to see.

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  • The Chinese were the first to invent the waterwheel in A.D. 31. That was 1,200 years before the Europeans. They were also the first country in the world to use an iron plow. They were certainly ahead of their game.

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  • China invented suspension bridges in 25 B.C, 1,800 years before such bridges were known in the West. The Chinese are certainly very clever.

chinese roof

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Chinese Geography 

This is a large country which is made up of heaps of mountains, and plenty rivers. Read on for more.

  • Stretching 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) from east to west and 3,400 miles (5,500 kilometers) from north to south, China is a large country, in fact the third largest country in the world.

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  • The total size of China is 3,705,405 square miles (9,596,960 square kilometers).

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  • There are approximately 5,000 islands that lie off the Chinese coast.

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  • It has loads of different types of landscapes from mountains, high plateaus, sandy deserts, and dense forests. It seems to have everything.

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  • One-third of China is made up of mountains. Ever heard of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth? Well it sits on the border of China and Nepal. And guess where that border lies? Right on top of the summit! Would be awesome to see the biggest mountain on Earth!

mount everest nepal

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  • Mount Everest is called “Zhumulangma” in China, which means Mother Goddess of the Earth.

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  • China has literally got thousands of rivers. The Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers are the most important. The Yangtze is the world’s third largest river at 3,915 miles (6,300 kilometers) long. That is seriously long. If you were travelling 60 miles per hour in a speed boat, it would take you just over 65 hours to travel the length of it. Wow.

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  • China experiences typhoons every year and also suffers from floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and droughts. Maybe it’s best not to visit.

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  • Even though China is big, it is all in one time zone, unlike other large countries.

Nature in China 

There are some really cool creatures in this part of the world, read on to see what they’re all about!

  • Remember China has got all sorts of different landscapes, which means that all sorts of species of animals and plants will live in those different habitats.

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  • They have more than 3,800 species of fish and hundreds of amphibians and reptile species which live in the rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

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  • Forests are getting cut down, and this is true for China as well. What this means is that the species which live in the forest are under threat.

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  • Their deserts are expanding in the north which will also shrink animal habitats. But the Chinese government has come to the rescue by creating more than 1,200 reserves to protect plant and animal species. Awesome.

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  • China boasts an awesome animal, the giant panda! They live in the misty mountains of southwest China and nowhere else on Earth. They eat bamboo, and heaps of it, and will often live near strands of woody evergreen plants. You might find them in a zoo, but there are only 1,600 left in the wild. That is so sad. They’ve been hunted over the years which mean they could become extinct.

panda china

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  • They also have some other interesting animal like the baiji, which is a freshwater dolphin that is about 8 feet (2.5 meters) long and it has a narrow, pencil-like beak.

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  • There is also the white-lipped deer, which weighs 500 pounds (220 kilograms). It has very large hooves which help it navigate through the mountains where it lives.

Chinese People and Culture

China is one of the most populated countries on earth, and they have some interesting cultures. Read on to know more about the fascinating Chinese people.

  • They have a population of 1.3 billion which means they have more people in their country than any other country on Earth. About a third of the population lives in cities and the rest of the people live in the country. Think about it like this, there are 7 billion people in the world and 1.3 billion live in just this one country. In this country alone they hold nearly 19% of the Earth’s population. That must be one very busy, bustling country.

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  • The Chinese love their arts and crafts, and these have a long history. Thousands of years ago they were the first people to use silk, jade, bronze, wood, and paper to make art. The artistic writing called calligraphy was invented in China. Hardly surprising if you look at their alphabet.

calligraphy

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  • Ever heard of Confucius? Well his real name was Kongfuzi and he lived over 3,000 years ago. A lot of today’s modern beliefs and philosophies are based on what he taught them. Isn’t that amazing? He taught them about morality, kindness and education. How cool is that?

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  • Did you know that there are loads of different languages spoken in China including Mandarin, Yue, Wu, Minbei, Minnan, Xiang, Gan and Hakka. And even more interesting, did you know that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world.

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  • Some people enjoy eating specialties like a bird nest soup, frog, snake, scorpion and dog. Well that doesn’t sound so good and you’ve got to be careful of those poisons. But not all people in China eat these; it depends where they come from. Hmmmm, not sure a meal here would be on the cards.

Other Cool Facts About China

With such an interesting country, there are heaps more awesome facts to get through. Have a read and then you’ll be filled with Chinese knowledge.

  • China is the second largest economy in the world, after the United States of America. That’s quite something.

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  • Did you know that in 2003 they became the third country to successfully send someone floating off into space?

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  • The Great Wall of China is the largest man-made structure in the world. This is going to blow your mind; remember it’s man-made and it stretches as long as 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers). Whoa, that is one seriously long wall.

wall of china

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  • Wonder where all your toys come from? Well 80% of them are made in China. They had to build heaps of factories to keep up with the demand. So go take a look at some of your toys and see how many are made in China. Bet it will be most of them.

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  • They also have the fastest train in the world in Shanghai, which goes 268 miles per hour (431 kilometers per hour). That is seriously fast.

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  • Bet you would love to live here – not only do they celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day they also celebrate children’s day where kids get presents or money. Don’t go begging your parents to have a special children’s day for you now.

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  • This is seriously interesting. The total number of kids in school from kindergarten to university is two hundred million! That is more students than the entire population of Japan. What?

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  • Chinese names usually have a meaning chosen by the family, to reflect something about the person. Also, the last name comes first, usually followed by two syllables that make up the first name.

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  • The Chinese call McDonald’s “Maidanglao”, which sounds similar and means that there is food made of wheat there; ah the hamburger bun.

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  • Cars are becoming more popular, but there are still loads of people who cycle to work.

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  • It is estimated that about three million people live in caves near the Yellow River. Living in a cave could be quite cool.

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  • In China dragons are seen as symbols of power and good luck. Maybe we should start thinking differently about dragons then.

dragon china

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  • The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday. On the seventh day, everyone turns a year older according to the lunar calendar. So everyone has a birthday on the same day, wow.

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  • As China has got such a huge population, the government only allows families to have one child. So there are lots of only kids there, with no brothers or sisters. If you do have an extra child, you get some rather hefty fines to pay. Because of this there are now 32 million more boys than girls in China. So in the future, where will the boys find their wives?

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  • You must have seen an abacus…it’s an ancient counting machine. Not only is it still used in schools to teach math, but you will often see shopkeepers still using it to make some calculations. That’s neat.

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  • In Ancient China, exporting silkworms or even silk used to be illegal and punishable by death! My goodness that’s a bit scary. But two monks got away with it; they smuggled silk out of the country around 550 AD by hiding the silkworm eggs in their walking sticks. They were obviously determined.

silkworm

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  • So we have to learn 26 letters in our alphabet, now think of this, Chinese students have to learn around 5,000 Chinese characters by the time they leave school. If they then go on to college they will learn around 10,000. But amazingly it doesn’t stop there…there are around 40,000 characters in total. Surely that could take you a lifetime to learn.

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  • In China, number 13 is not considered to be unlucky, but don’t be mentioning number four as it’s a similar word to death.

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  • But they have a lucky number too…and that’s number eight. Interestingly this could explain why the government scheduled the 2008 Olympics to begin on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 PM.

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  • Kids play some cool games; Tiaoqi (Chinese checkers) and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) are their favorite board games. Soccer and basketball are also popular, as is ping pong as it doesn’t need much space to play.

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  • Most kids live with their grandparents while their parents go out and work. Hope they see their Mum and Dad a lot.

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  • Who would have known that ice cream was invented in China around 2000 B.C.? They packed a soft milk and rice mixture in the snow. Wow.

ice cream invented in china

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  • The Chinese year is based on the cycles of the moon and is called the lunar schedule. A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years and this calendar dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the oldest known calendar in the world. Each year is represented by an animal of which there are twelve to represent each month. Apparently Buddha named the years after the twelve animals that came to visit him before he left Earth. The Chinese believe that you have some of the characteristics of the animal representing the year that you were born. Do you know which Chinese animal you are?

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  • Now this is seriously interesting. When a child loses a tooth, there are no tooth fairies here. If a top tooth is lost it gets planted in the ground so the new tooth will grow straight and healthy, and if a bottom tooth is lost it gets thrown to the rooftops so that the new tooth will grow upwards. Unbelievable.

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  • If the gate to your house is facing south, then you’re in for some luck, as the Chinese believe this is like a good luck charm.

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  • At one time that Chinese wanted to rid their country of foreign conquerors. So what did they do? They hid messages in moon cakes and passed them on to each other to announce the uprising. Quite clever.

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  • If you go to China, wear red, it’s considered to be very lucky. At one time all wedding dresses were red.

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  • Think fortune cookies come from China? Well they don’t; they were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco. Who would’ve known?

fortune cookie china

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  • Cricket fighting is a popular amusement in China. Many Chinese children keep crickets as pets. Cricket fighting sounds very weird indeed.

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  • Many historians believe that soccer was actually invented in China around 1000 B.C.

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  • Now this is interesting. Try and take a wild guess what the number one hobby is in China is? Ready? Well it is actually stamp collecting.

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  • Unlike other countries, white is used for mourning instead of black. Interesting.

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  • Guess how chopsticks were invented? Well historians believe that as the Chinese population grew, people had to save cooking fuel. So they chopped food into small pieced so they would cook quicker, and these bite sized little pieces didn’t need knives…enter chopsticks. Wow.

chinese chopsticks

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  • Ever seen people with a long nail on their little finger? Well in China wealthy men and women grew the nails of their little fingers extremely long as a sign of their rank. They often wore decorative gold and silver nail guards to protect their nails.

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  • According to legend, tea was discovered by the Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 B.C.

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  • Apparently a tea leaf fell into his boiling water and there you have it. The Chinese consider tea to be a very important part of life.

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  • We know that martial arts are popular in this part of the world, but what you might not know is that they were actually created from ancient farming and hunting methods. Wonder how they farmed and hunted to create martial arts from that.

martial arts

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  • There is another Chines legend about how silk was invented. Apparently it was discovered in 3000 B.C. by Lady Xi Ling Sui, wife of the Emperor Huang Di. A silk worm cocoon accidentally dropped into her hot tea, the fine threads from the cocoon unraveled in the hot water and silk was born.

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  • The oldest piece of paper in the world was found in China. Amazingly it dates back to the second or first century B.C. That was some strong paper to survive for so long.

ancient paper

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  • China’s Grand Canal is the world’s oldest and longest canal at 1,114 miles (1,795 kilometers) long with 24 locks and around 60 bridges.

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  • We think bats are a bit frightening, but in China the bat is good luck symbol. So we’ll have to think a bit differently about bats now.

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  • Bet you didn’t know this. In some parts of China, “pigtails” were associated with a girl’s marital status. A young girl would wear two pigtails, and when she married, she would wear just one. So at least the young men knew who was married and who wasn’t.

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  • Mirrors were very important in ancient China and they were believed to protect their owners from evil. They would make hidden spirits visible and reveal the secrets of the future. So if you’d been scared by a ghost all you had to do was look in the mirror and you would no longer be scared. Mirrors were often hung in burial chambers for this reason. Very interesting.

mirror reflection

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  • This is quite something. In 2007, dog food and toothpaste products made in China were recalled because they had poisonous ingredients in them. In July, China’s head of the State Food and Drug Administration was found to have accepted bribes from pharmaceutical companies. He was executed. How rude!

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  • The Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008 were the most expensive games in history.  It is estimated that is cost a whopping $40 billion. What in the world did they spend it all on?

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  • Now this seems quite bizarre…when they built the Great Wall of China, the Chinese people used rice flour to strengthen some of the bricks.

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  • China has the most goats in the world, with a whopping 170 million of these animals.

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  • This is not a place to commit fraud. It is a crime punishable by death.

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  • China has the most cell phone users in the world…wow.

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  • Almost half of the pigs in the world are kept by the Chinese.

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Wow, this is certainly one interesting country with heaps of interesting information. Can you think of any other awesome facts about China that we might have left out?

Now, why not read up on some cool facts about Australia?

Useful Websites

If you want to learn more about cool China, take a look at the Time for Kids guide.