China officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.3 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, the East Asian state is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.
The People's Republic of China is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). Its capital city is Beijing. The PRC also claims Taiwan—which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity—as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War. The PRC government denies the legitimacy of the ROC.
China's landscape is vast and diverse, with forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts occupying the arid north and northwest near Mongolia and Central Asia, and subtropical forests being prevalent in the wetter south near Southeast Asia. The terrain of western China is rugged and elevated, with the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separating China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, have their sources in the Tibetan Plateau and continue to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long—the 11th-longest in the world—and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.
The nation of China has had numerous historical incarnations. The ancient Chinese civilization—one of the world's earliest—flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain