China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a unitary one-party sovereign state in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area, depending on the source consulted.
Governed by the Communist Party of China, it exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. The Chinese Civil War led to the break up of the country in 1949, with the victorious Communist Party of China founding the People's Republic of China on the mainland while the losing Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan, a dispute which is still unresolved.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates consistently above 6 percent. As of 2016, it is the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods.
China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget.
The PRC is a member of the United Nations, as it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1971. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the ASEAN Plus mechanism, WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BCIM, and the G20.
China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential superpower.
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