Official name: People's Republic of China
Population: About 1.35 billion
Major religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese folk religions
Capital city: Beijing
Other major cities: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shantou, Shenzhen
Legal system: Single-party socialist republic
Main languages: Mandarin Chinese, with hundreds of local dialects
Time: GMT +8
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Chinese Standard three-pin plugs are most common. Adaptors are recommended for expats not from Australia and New Zealand.
Currency: The Renminbi (RMB), also referred to as the Chinese Yúan (CNY), divided into 10 jiǎo.
Tipping: Only group tour guides are usually tipped. Tipping the standard 10 per cent in high-end Western restaurants and hotels for good service is becoming more common, but not necessarily expected.
Neighbouring countries: Covering a vast expanse of the Asian mainland, China's neighbours include India and Pakistan to the southwest, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to the west, Mongolia to the north, part of Russia to the northeast, North Korea, South Korea and Japan to the east, and Taiwan to the southeast.
International dialling code: +86
Emergency numbers: In most major cities the emergency numbers are 110 (police), 120 (ambulance), and 119 (fire)
Internet TLD: .cn
Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the right hand side, except in Hong Kong and Macau. The country has an expansive national railway network which includes high-speed trains. Public transport may be difficult to navigate for non-Mandarin speakers.
Education: Public education is taught in Chinese. Expats will have access to bilingual private schools and international schools are widely distributed but often very expensive.
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