China (/'tan/; Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims Taiwan – which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity – as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, China is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third or fourth-largest by total area, depending on the definition of total area. China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.
The ancient Chinese civilization – one of the world's earliest – flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin (c. 2000 BCE). Since 221 BCE, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China overthrew the last dynasty in 1911, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. After the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to its present capital of Taipei.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy. As of 2013, it is the world's second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world's largest exporter and importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget. The PRC has been a United Nations member since 1971, when it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the BCIM and the G-20. China has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts.
The United States of America (USA or U.S.A.), commonly referred to as the United States (US or U.S.) and America, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states and a federal district. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C. are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America, west of Canada and east of Russia which is across the Bering Strait in Asia, and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-North Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean.
At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 315 million people, the United States is the third largest country by land area and population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the U.S. is also extremely diverse, with deserts, plains, forests, and mountains that are home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the United States mainland around 12,000 years ago. European colonization began around 1600 and came mostly from England. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and the American colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence, which established the United States of America. The American Revolutionary War, which ended with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, 27 Amendments have since been added to the Constitution. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
Driven by the doctrine of manifest destiny, the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century. This involved displacing native tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states. The American Civil War ended legalized slavery in the United States. By the end of the 19th century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, and its economy was the world's largest. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country with nuclear weapons, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower.
The United States is a developed country and has the world's largest national economy, with an estimated 2013 GDP of $16.2 trillion, 22% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity, as of 2011. The per capita GDP of the U.S. was the world's sixth-highest as of 2010. A 2013 study ranked the US as having the fourth most unequal income distribution among OECD nations, though it has the highest mean and second highest median household income in the OECD, as well as the highest average employee compensation. The economy is fueled by an abundance of natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity; and while its economy is considered post-industrial it continues to be one of the world's largest manufacturers. The country accounts for 39% of global military spending, being the foremost economic and military power, a prominent political and cultural force in the world, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovation.
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