China is a nation in East Asia that is officially known as the People's Republic of China. With a population of more than 1.4 billion people, it is the most populated nation on the planet. In spite of the fact that it encompasses five geographical time zones and shares borders with 14 nations, the second highest number of any country in the world after Russia, China uses a single standard time offset, UTC+08:00. It is the third or fourth biggest nation in the world, with a land area of about 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million mi2). Officially, China is divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four direct-controlled municipalities, namely Beijing (the capital city), Tianjin, Shanghai (the largest city), and Chongqing. There are also two special administrative regions, namely Hong Kong and Macau, within the country.
China originated as one of the world's earliest civilizations in the rich valley of the Yellow River on the North China Plain, where it developed into one of the world's most advanced economies. From the first millennium BC to the nineteenth century AD, China was one of the world's leading economic powers throughout the majority of the two millennia. Beginning in the 21st century BCE with the Xia dynasty, China's political structure was centred on absolute hereditary monarchs, known as dynasties, who ruled the country for millennia. Since then, China has seen many expansions, divisions, and reunifications. The Qin dynasty unified central China in the 3rd century BCE and created the world's first Chinese empire. The following Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) saw the development of some of the most sophisticated technologies available at the time, including papermaking and the invention of the compass, as well as advances in agriculture and medicine. Completed the Four Great Inventions were the inventions of gunpowder and moveable type during the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) periods, respectively. Tang culture expanded extensively across Asia, thanks to the new Silk Route, which carried merchants all the way from Mesopotamia to the Horn of Africa. The Qing Empire, China's final dynasty, which served as the geographical foundation for modern China, suffered significant losses as a result of Western imperialism in the late nineteenth century. During the 1911 Revolution, the Chinese monarchy came crashing down, and the Republic of China (ROC) came to power, replacing the Qing dynasty. During World War II, the Empire of Japan launched an invasion of China. As a consequence of the Chinese Civil War, a split of territory occurred in 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) headed by Mao Zedong formed the People's Republic of China in mainland China while the Kuomintang-led Republic of China (ROC) government withdrew to the island of Taiwan. Since both the PRC and the Republic of China claim to be China's only legal government, a conflict has erupted that has continued even after the United Nations acknowledged the PRC as the government authorised to represent China at all United Nations conferences in 1971. China is presently ruled as a unitary one-party socialist republic by the Chinese Communist Party, which is the largest political party in the country.