China is a powerful country that has kept many historians and anthropologists interested for centuries. Even regular people never miss a chance to learn interesting facts about China since their culture, people, and way of life are fascinating. If you are one of those people, you are lucky to have stumbled upon this article!
Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known China facts you may find interesting before your next trip there!
23 Interesting Facts about China
1. Some Parts of China Witness the Sunrise at 10 AM
China is stretched over 3,100 miles from east to west and 3,400 miles north to south. Despite that, the country observes only ONE time zone! Standard Chinese time is the same for everyone, even the people of the west who get to have a sunrise at 10 AM. When 6 o’clock strikes in Beijing, it’s also 6 o’clock 3,000 miles to the west in Kashgar.
2. Shanghai Is the Largest City in the Country
Shanghai is the buzzing metropolitan city of China with a population of over 26 million. It can also be called the ‘Queen of the Orient’ or the ‘Paris of the East.’ Their way of life is different from other cities as they have a unique dialect, called “Shanghainese.” Chinese people from other regions cannot understand this dialect
3. The Forbidden City of China Was an Imperial Palace
During the Ming Dynasty, the Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace of Chinese emperors for 500 years. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses a collection of ancient buildings. The architectural value of the Forbidden City symbolizes the religious and philosophical principles of the Ming Dynasty.
4. The Great Wall of China Is Not One Giant Wall
The Great Wall of China is not of continuous length. It comprises a network of walls that span over 20,000 km. The walls can get double, triple, or quadruple at different locations. They even overlap at some points.
5. They Celebrate New Year for 15 Days
Chinese New Year is quite different from the one celebrated in the west. First of all, it’s based on the lunar calendar, so the first day of the Chinese year falls somewhere between January 21 and February 20, and it changes every year. They celebrate it for 15 days until the Lantern Festival. Every day from the first day of the year to the 15th has a special celebration activity.
6. They Invented Football
The first soccer ball was a leather ball made of feathers and hair. It was invented in China 2,200 years ago. They played a game called Cuju or Ts’u-chü, which means ‘kicking ball.’ The ancient Chinese people played this game as a competitive sport.
7. Fortune Cookies Are Not Traditionally Chinese
Every year, 3 billion fortune cookies are made, and westerners think they are a traditional Chinese custom. However, it’s far from the truth. Fortune cookies were created in San Francisco by a Japanese restaurant. They became instantly popular in the US but failed to impact their supposed homeland.
8. The Terracotta Warriors Were Discovered by Farmers
Terracotta Warriors are life-size figures buried with Emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BC. It is estimated that it took 30 years to complete these warrior figures buried with him for protection in the afterlife. They were undiscovered for centuries until 1974, when some farmers found the site.
9. They Have the Largest Standing Army
The People’s Republic of China has 2,185,000 (2021) active army personnel, one million more than the active-duty soldiers in the US Army. They are part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which is older than today’s China.
10. It’s a Legal Requirement to Test Cosmetics on Animals
An unexpected fact about China is that they test their beauty products on animals. Although the practice is banned in Europe, Chinese law makes it mandatory to test cosmetics on animals before their launch in the market.
11. Their Massive Railway Lines Can Encircle the Earth Twice
Given the population of China and the fact that it’s the 4th largest country in the world by area, it’s not surprising to see a developed transportation system. However, the railway lines of China are so extensive throughout the country that they could circle the planet around twice.
12. They Have 30-40 Million More Men Than Women
The uneven population of China is due to the one-child policy that has been part of the country’s legislation for more than three decades. Each family can have only one child per family, making parents more inclined to have a son than a daughter. This has created a huge gap, with 30-40 million men unable to find a Chinese wife if they wish to marry one.
13. Since 2009, Facebook Has Been Banned
Not just Facebook, but many other websites are banned in China. Their internet services have strong censorship and block many popular sites in the west. Despite the ban, almost 95 million Chinese people have a way to access these sites using a VPN. Most of them prefer to use their social media platforms like WeChat, Baidu, and Sina Weibo.
14. They Build a New Skyscraper Every 5 Days
China has come a long way from its days of poverty thanks to the 1990s administration led by Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji. Now, the country is among the fastest-growing countries in the world. The cities are developed continuously, with a new skyscraper built every 5 days. On average, they build 73 new skyscrapers every year!
15. One in 5 People on Earth Are Chinese
The Chinese form more than 20% of the entire world population, making their culture and language one of the most important things. Most Chinese people reside in their native country, but theoretically, you would find at least one Chinese person in a group of five people.
16. The Most Common Surnames in China Are Wang, Li, and Zhan
Chinese surnames have important meanings that represent the historical values of the family. They take pride in their family names, but they are not distributed evenly around China. Wang is the most common surname in the Northern region, with 10% of the population using it. Li and Zhang are the second most popular in the region. These two are also common surnames in the South.
17. They Consider Long Nails as a Wealth Symbol
A weird and technically correct fact about China is that they consider long nails a sign of wealth. Men often keep their nails long to show that they are rich. It shows that they do not work physically, so they don’t need to cut their nails.
18. Their Table Manners are Different from Other Countries
Some behaviors like burping, grunting, spitting, and yawning are considered rude in other parts of the world, but not in China. Here it’s normal to burp out loud, and no one will look at you twice if you do it in public.
19. They Score Citizens Based on Their Behavior
China has a system to score its citizens using their Social Credit Score. They get rewarded or punished based on this score. Things like late debt payment, jaywalking, etc., can lose them points. These points are crucial to improving social status and getting benefits like public school access for kids, plane tickets, hotel stays, etc.
20. They Own All the Pandas
All the pandas in the world are housed in China, and they live in Chengdu, Sichuan. If you see a panda somewhere else globally, it means they have lent it from China.
21. They Have the World’s Longest Continuous Civilization
China’s civilization has been around for the longest time. It started in 6,000 BC, and despite all the changes happening over the centuries, the civilization is still thriving today. Also, they have contributed to the invention of great things like paper, printing, the compass, and gunpowder.
22. Their Silk Road Is the Longest and Oldest Trade Route in the World
The Silk Road is 2,485 miles long, and it exists in the Chinese territory of 9,597 million km2. It starts from Beijing and connects East and Southeast Asia with West Asia, Southern Europe, and East Africa.
23. They Are the War Experts in the World
China is the oldest civilization in the world. So, technically they know more about war tactics than anyone else in the world. They were the first to use chemical weapons and gas during a war. It happened 2,000 years before the Europeans used them during World War II. They even invented kites to scare their enemies 3,000 years ago!
Video: China in 5 Minutes – Learn About China Quickly
With more than 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s most populous country, and it has created many of the foundations of the modern world. Learn the most important information about China in this video!
Now you know a lot more about China than you did before! We are glad to share some interesting facts about this culturally rich and technologically advanced country. Next time you visit China, we hope you will be even more excited to explore the ancient sites, cuisine, and lifestyle of the locals!
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.