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The Himalayas Mountains
The Himalayas along China\'s southwestern frontier with India are the world\'s tallest mountains. China\'s greatest river, the Yangtze, is the world\'s fourth longest. The Taklimakan Desert, in western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is one of the driest spots on Earth. The area of loessic soil (fine, siltlike soil created by wind action in dry regions) in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces is probably more extensive than in any other place.
China has a great wealth of mineral and natural resources. Reserves of coal, petroleum, iron ore, tungsten, tin, bauxite, copper, limestone, and many other minerals needed in modern industry are abundant. Used in domestic manufacturing and exported to obtain money, these resources provide China with a solid foundation for rapid industrial growth. Like the United States, China is located in the mid-latitudes. On the east and south China faces major arms of the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, eastern China especially the southeastern coast is humid and has generally mild winters compared to the rest of the country. High mountains close off the west, however, and much of the western two thirds of the country is relatively dry and isolated. Traditionally, China\'s western regions have been sparsely populated, largely by minority peoples such as Tibetans, Uygurs, and MongoliansChina has the largest population of any country: 1,133,682,501 people were counted during the census taken in 1990. This population had grown rapidly in recent times, expanding by approximately 15 million each year, an increase equal to the total population of Australia. In an effort to reduce the rate of population growth, the Chinese government since 1978 has promoted the one-child family among the Han. (All married couples are urged to have only one child.) Before the Communist Revolution, a number of religious and philosophical systems were practiced in China. Traditionally Taoism and Confucianism provided ethical guides to the proper behavior of individuals and officials. Both of these systems originated in China during the so-called Golden Age of Chinese thought, several centuries before the beginning of the Christian era. Taoism sought to promote the inner peace of individuals and harmony with their surroundings. Confucianism, based on the teachings and writings of the philosopher Confucius, is an ethical system that sought to teach the proper way for all people to behave in society. Each relationship husband-wife, parents-children, ruler-subjects involved a set of obligations which, if upheld, would lead to a just and harmonious society. Following his teachings would also promote a stable, lasting government (see Confucius).
Buddhism, which came to China from India as early as the 1st century AD, was a more conventional religion. Its followers attended occasional services, practiced rituals, and supported a temple on a regular basis. It has been estimated that more than 68 million Chinese still consider themselves Buddhists, though it is unlikely that they practice the religion regularly (see Buddhism). Prior to 1949, practices that may best be called folk religions were common throughout China. Although they incorporated elements of Buddhism and, especially, Taoism, these religions were usually local, often based on local gods, and served the local people.. By 1945, however, it was estimated that only 20 percent of China\'s people could read and write.Since the Communists came to power in 1949 literacy has risen rapidly. Today it is estimated that 76 percent of adults are literate. Educational policy, however, has varied considerably. Generally, a primary school education has been made available to almost everyone, and about 40 percent of young people are able to attend middle school. This reflects a belief that basic knowledge is essential to rural development and economic progress.
Education at the college or university level is difficult to obtain, however. The average primary school student has about one chance in 145 of enrolling in a university or college. More and more of China\'s young people are finishing high school, but no more than 2 to 3 percent of high school graduates go on to the next level. Policies on college admission have changed from time to time, and the basis of selection is not always clear.
China\'s traditional economy was based on rural activities and farm production. Ownership of land was the main form of wealth, and large holdings often belonged to absentee landlords who lived in nearby cities. Many peasants were poor
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East Asian religions, East Asian culture, Religion in China, China, Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese philosophy, Han Chinese, Confucius, Beijing
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