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Area: 9.6 million sq km
Population: 1.35 billion (UN, 2010)
Languages: Mandarin Chinese
Religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam,
GNI per capita: US $3,590 (World Bank, 2009)
Currency: Renminbi (RMB), US$1=6.35 RMB
With one-fifth of the world’s population, China is the most populous country on Earth. Han Chinese account for 90% of the population, with various ethnic minorities accounting for the other 10%. In order to curb population growth, the Chinese government implemented its fertility policy plan in 1979. Since urban couples are limited to having only one child, the plan has become known as the “one-child policy.”   
Geographically China is the third largest country in the world. Because it is so vast, a variety of climate types can be found in China. Most of China has a continental climate. Turpan Basin in Xinjiang Province is the hottest area with summertime temperatures reaching 45°C (113°F). July and August are the rainiest months, and the weather is usually hot and humid, especially in the Yangtze River region. On the coldest winter day in northeast China temperatures can drop to negative 45°C (-49°F).     
70% of the Chinese population are engaged in agricultural production growing rice, wheat, tea and other products. Many farmers only grow enough to feed their own families with very little leftover to sell.
Since China launched the reform and opening up policy in 1980, the country has experienced rapid economic growth, has attracted much foreign investment and has become the world’s leading exporter. In February 2011, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. However, a huge gap exists between the development of coastal cities and inland provinces, and many residents of inland provinces migrate to coastal cities for employment opportunities. During the recent financial crisis, the government has initiated a number of economic policies to encourage unemployed migrant workers to return to their rural homes.   
Although China’s economic liberalization has substanially improved the lives of many people, there it has also created many challenges including an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, problems of urbanization, and frequent large-scale natural disasters.