China

 

With over one-fifth of the world's population, the majority of China exists today as a state known as the People's Republic of China.
According to China Travel Guide, the top 6 tourist destinations in China are: Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Guilin, Lhasa and Hong Kong. China Highlights, on the other hand, lists the top photography destinations as Xitang Water Town, Xidi and Hongcun Ancient Villages, Tibet, the ancient town of Lijiang in Yunnan Province, and Yangshuo, with its beautiful natural scenery reminiscent of Chinese classical landscape painting.

Beijing, the capital city, has been the political, economic and cultural centre of China for 800 years. The Forbidden City, the best preserved imperial palace in the world, is now open to visitors. Part of the 5,500 mile (8,850 km) Great Wall can be visited in Beijing. The largest city centre square in the world, Tianamen Square, now has tragic and historic interest following the pro-democracy movement’s violent suppression, with the death of hundreds if not thousands of people, in 1989. Beijing has countless beautiful temples, including the Temple of Heaven where the emperors worshipped, but just as interesting, if less spectacular are the Hutongs or courtyards where visitors can experience the local way of life.

Dunhuang is located near the historic junction of the northern and southern Silk Roads, and was therefore a town of military importance. Today its main site of interest is the Mogao Caves, a centre of Buddhist art. Dunhuang is a desert oasis town and like all the western cities of China can suffer from sandstorms, so tourists should be prepared to cover themselves and their cameras!

Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi province in China, eastern end of the Silk Road. Xi'an is the largest and most developed city in the central to northwestern part of China. The chief attraction in this city is the amazing collection of 7,000 life-size terracotta soldiers and horses guarding the tomb of the first Emperor of Qin (259 to 210 BC.) This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site was discovered by a group of peasants digging a well in 1974. The excavated pit now covers an area of 16,300 square metres.

Guilin is one of China’s most popular destinations because of its unique mountain scenery with karst formations. The Li River flows through the city, and a large number of Sweet Osmanthus trees give it a fragrant scent.
The Yangtze River is the longest and most important river in China, (and the longest in Asia) and numerous different cruises are on offer. One takes you through the iconic Three Gorges to the world famous and controversial Three Gorges Dam.

The Yellow River is the other well-known river in China. 5,464 km long (3,400 miles), it rises in the Kunlun Mountains and, on its way to the Bohai Sea in the east, irrigates a huge flood plain where much of China’s rice is grown. It also provides hydroelectric power through the nine dams built along its course.
Shanghai is the largest city in China and has a claim to be the most populous city in the world, with a population over 23 million. Already the most prosperous city in Asia in the 1930s, Shanghai is the most modern city in The People’s Republic of China and is playing a key role in the development of the present day Chinese economy.
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