History: With nearly 4000 years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilisations. Prior to the decline of Imperial China after the Industrial Revolution in Europe, China had one of the most advanced societies and economies in the world. Chinese inventions changed the world, including the Four Great Chinese Inventions - papermaking, the compass, gunpowder, and printing. Four millenia of successive dynastic rule ended after imperialism, internal weakness and civil wars undermined the integrity and economy of the nation in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Chinese Civil War split the nation into the communist People's Republic of China (PRC), and the nationalist Republic of China (ROC), now commonly known as Taiwan. Economic reforms based around the Four Modernisations (agriculture, industry, defence, science and technology) have made China the world's second largest economy, and an emerging superpower.
Culture: Historically, the cultural sphere of China has extended across East Asia as a whole, with Chinese religion, customs, and writing systems being adopted to varying degrees by neighbours such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and the Chinese diaspora. Traditional Chinese values are derived from Confucianism and centred around the family, similar to the Chinese community in Singapore, where ideals such as filial piety and meritocracy are greatly valued. The concept of guanxi, indicating the primacy of relations over rules, remain influential in Chinese business culture, even as modern China overflows with commercial and creative energy.
Arts: Chinese art encompasses fine art, folk art and performance art. Aspects of Chinese art that are more prominent throughout the world include jade, ceramics, shan shui (mountain and water) paintings depicting natural scenery, Chinese opera and variety arts (acrobatic and balancing acts). Literature and music has also flourished, with a rich tradition in calligraphy and poetry.
Architecture: Architecture has long been a hallmark of Chinese culture. In contrast to Western architecture, Chinese architecture has a traditional emphasis on width, such as in the wide halls of the Forbidden City. Symmetry, which connotes a sense of balance and grandeur, is also important. Feng shui continues to play an important role in Chinese architecture, even in modern structures.
Environment: China is a vast land that encompasses terrains such as subartic tundra in the north, tropical rainforests in the south, deserts in the west and the coastline to the east. Features such as mountains, caves and karst landscapes make for dramatic scenery. However, in a nation focused on its rise as an economic power, the environment has suffered through decades of neglect and pollution. Nonetheless, a renewed environmental awareness springs hope for the nation.
Government: China is regarded as one of the world's last Communist states, with restrictions in many areas, including the Internet, the press, freedom of assembly, reproductive rights, and freedom of religion. The President is head of state and the Premier is head of government. The country is ruled by the Communist Party, which maintains a unitary government centralising the state, military, and media, but has also shown a move towards political liberalisation.
Media: Chinese media continues to be strictly regulated by the government, but is increasingly commercialised, competitive and diversified, with an increase in investigative reporting.
Sports: A rich Chinese history in sports goes beyond martial arts such as taichi and shaolin boxing. Sports such as archery, equestrian polo, football, and golf were enjoyed by the Chinese even before modern times. Modern China excels in table tennis, volleyball and gymnastics.