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The Peoples Republic of China

The world's third largest country, ranking after Russia and Canada, China has a land area of about 9.6 million square kilometers, making up 6.5 percent of earth's land mass. Approximately 98 percent of China's land area is located between 20 and 50 north latitude. In climate, the greater part of the country belongs to the temperate zone (i.e., the cold-temperate, temperate, and warm-temperate zones) and the subtropical zone, which respectively account for 45.6 and 26.1 percent of China's land area.

The territory of China extends about 5,200 kilometers from the Pamirs (longitude 73º40' E) in western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the eastern corner of the boundary marker (longitude 135º5' E) at the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli Rivers. From north to south, it measures some 5,500 kilometers, stretching from the borderline (latitude 53º31'N) in the Heilong River north of the town of Mohe to the Zengmu Reef (latitude 4º15' N) at the southernmost tip of the South China Sea Islands. The length of the land boundary is 22,000 kilometers and the mainland coastline, 18,000 kilometers (32,000 kilometers with the coastlines of the 5,000 or more offshore islands included).

China has a vast sea area, its domain extending into the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea. Contiguous to each other, the four seas form a northeast southwest arc covering a total area of 4.78 million square kilometers.

China is bordered by Korea in the northeast; Russia and Mongolia in the north; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and India in the southwest; and Burma, Laos and Vietnam in the south. Across the seas to the east and southeast it faces Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

Administratively, China is divided into three basic levels: provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government), counties (cities, banners, special districts, industrial-agricultural district, forest district), and townships (towns). There are twenty-three provinces, five autonomous regions, and three municipalities directly under the Central Government. The administrative units under a province or an autonomous region include prefectures, autonomous prefectures, leagues, cities, counties, autonomous counties, banners, and autonomous banners. Under a county or an autonomous county are townships, nationality townships, and towns. The municipalities directly under the Central Government and large cities are divided into districts and counties, while the autonomous prefectures are divided into counties, autonomous counties, and cities. The autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures, and autonomous counties are all nationality areas.

Click here to view information on each provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.