It is the third largest country in the world, behind Russia and Canada.
With more than 1.3 billion people and an estimated growth rate of about 0.6 percent, China makes up more than one-fifth of the world's total population - making it the most populous country in the world.
There are seven major Chinese dialects and many subdialects. Mandarin (or Putonghua), the predominant dialect, is spoken by 70 percent of the population. The rest of the population, concentrated in southwest and southeast China, speak one of the six other major Chinese dialects.
China started its economic reform in 1979. The transformation from a planned-economy to a market-economy has unleashed individual initiative and entrepreneurship.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) totaled nearly USD 2.7 trillion in 2006, a 10.7 percent growth from 2005.
In 2006, Chinese foreign direct investment topped USD 63 billion, up 5 percent from 2005.
China is also the third-largest energy producer in the world, after the U.S. and Russia.
China will host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. Both are expected to have a positive impact on the country's economic and social development.
Under the Chinese government's Five-Year Plan for 2005 to 2010, goals have been set to build an energy-efficient and environmentally smart society. The 2005 levels of energy consumption per unit of GDP is to be reduced by 20 percent by the end of 2010.
China has been engaged in an active program of bilateral environmental cooperation since the mid-1990s and is a member of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP). The organization explores new mechanisms to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change goals.