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China

People's Republic of China (commonly known as China or abbreviated to PRC) is a country in East Asia. At over 9.5 million sq km (3.7 million square miles), it is the world's fourth largest country in terms of total area (excluding any disputed territories), and with over 1.31 billion people, it is the world's most populous country.

China isn't a country - it's a different world. Unless you have a couple of years and unlimited patience, it's best to follow a loose itinerary here, such as following the Silk Road route, sailing down the Yangzi River, or exploring the Dr Seuss landscape of Guangxi Province.

From shop-till-you-drop metropolises to the epic grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China is a land of cultural and geographic schisms. It's not that it has completely done away with its Maoist past - it's more that the yin of revolutionary zeal is being balanced by the yang of economic pragmatism.

Like Australia, Canada and the USA its sheer size is almost incomprehensible to UK visitors, and it offers a huge variety of experiences to travellers. Three of the most unmissable are the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army. They simply can't fail to make an impression on the vast majority of travellers. Don't be fooled though as there is much more to this country should you wish to explore deeper and step off the normal tourist routes.

Beijing is the capital of China, and is not only the location of the aforementioned Forbidden City's Imperial Palace and its abundance of artistic treasures, but you can also visit Tian'anmen Square (famous for it's student protest bradcast around the world), as well as the magical Temple of Heaven - one of China's most splendid places of worship - and plenty of historic buildings and markets nestled between the glittering skyscrapers of the modern city.

If you head north then you're within easy access of a stunning portion of the Great Wall, the 6000 kilometre long structure which is one of the world's most imposing spectacles, and the perfect vantage point to gaze out over the Chinese countryside. It's also one of the only man made structures visible from outer space.

Shanghai is in complete contrast to Beijing's, and an altogether more riotous place somtimes called the 'Paris of China'. Immerse yourself in the old world feel of this vibrant city, art deco architecture and higgledy-piggledy alleyways, brimming with authentic crafts shops, tailors and silk traders and merchants.

No matter where you go in China you can expect to enjoy a visual and cultural assault of the senses, in the landmarks, the food and the very unique and varied cultures which characterise this incredible country.

Map of China