Beijing (Peking). Population: 16.3 million (2007), estimated 17 million in 2008. Chongqing is the largest urban area, with a population of more than 31 million. Shanghai has a population of over 18 million and, as of 2004, 11 other cities had a population of over 2 million and 23 cities had a population of 1 to 2 million. At China's current rate of urbanization, it is predicted that by 2025, the nation will have 219 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants.
People's Republic. China comprises 23 provinces (China considers Taiwan its 23rd province), five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities directly under central government.
Head of state:
President Xi Jinping since 2012.
Head of government:
Premier Li Keqiang since 2012.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin and three-pin sockets are generally in use. However, most 4 to 5 star hotels are also wired for the use of 110 volt appliances.
Colossal, dizzying and fiercely, endlessly foreign, China is a destination not easily compared to anywhere else on the planet. Home to approximately one fifth of the human race, China variously dazzles, befuddles, frustrates and thrills. The key visitor attractions are renowned around the globe – think the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors – but on the ground it’s the sheer scale and off-kilter energy of the place that leave the most lasting impression.
The rampant economic drive of the last decade means many of China’s cities are as shaped by modernity as anywhere you care to mention, but it’s also somewhere underpinned by dearly held traditions and an almost unfathomable amount of diversity. China's landscapes unfurl dramatically across the map, its customs are as fascinating as they are numerous, and its sights, sounds and infinite oddities altogether amount to one of the world’s truly great travel experiences.