Nicknamed as the Sleeping Giant, China (中国), an enormous land of varied climate, geography, culture, music, politics, history and art, is a great tourist destination with a rich history and numerous cultural and historical sites. Home to numerous different ethnic groups, it offers a cultural variety that is not found elsewhere.
There is more to see and to do in China than you could cover in a lifetime – or two. The Chinese government made a great effort to get China ready to welcome the world for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Even though those events have come and gone, it's still a great time to visit China.
- 1271 national key cultural relics
- 177 state level scenic spots
- 101 amour cultural and historical cities
- 342 national forest parks
- 44 national geological parks
- 153 state level nature reserves
Some of the most popular Chinese tourism destinations include:
- the great wall of china
- Terracotta Army in Xian (zh:秦始皇兵马俑博物馆)
- the Forbidden City (故宫)
- Yangtze River (zh:长江)
- Lijiang River (zh:桂林市漓江景区)
- the Ming Tombs
- Tian'anmen Square (zh:天安门广场)
- Xian city wall (zh:西安城墙)
- Jiuzhaigou (zh:九寨沟)
- Huangshan (Yellow mountain) (zh:黄山)
- Summer Palace (zh:颐和园)
- Wolong Giant Panda Research Center
- Yellow River (zh:黄河)
- Harbin Ice Lantern Festival (哈尔滨冰灯)
- and much more...
But China is not only a giant of tourism, it is in the middle of an economic boom that will make China one of the leading nations in the world, if it has not, indeed, already done so.
 Size and geography
China is about the size of the United States. Interestingly enough for a country with 1.32 billion people (the world's largest population), China is a country with a frontier, in the American sense of the word: most of the population is in the east, and western China is sparsely populated, with many areas of wilderness. China's west, like America's, is dry and mountainous in many areas. Unlike America, however, China has no "west coast". Instead, China borders several countries ending in "stan" (Kazakhstan, Kyrgrzystan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), Jammu and Kashmir, India, and Nepal. Like America, China borders large countries in the north (America borders Canada; China borders Mongolia and Russia), and it borders a large country in the south and has several smaller countries to the southeast. Unlike the USA, however, there are medium to large countries just to the east (the Koreas and Japan).
As mentioned before, China has its population mostly in the eastern part of the country, sitting on the eastern plains (North China Plain, Northeastern Plain, Chang Jiang Downstream Plain, Sichuan Basin) and the somewhat hillier region of southeast China. Here are where the major cities are, mostly: metropolises like Beijing and Nanjing and Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The arid, mountainous west has some of the world's highest mountains (including the highest of them all, Mount Everest, although it sits on the international border). The southwest sits high in the sky, on the Tibetian Plateau. There are at least two large deserts in China: the Gobi Desert, which is in the north central part of the country and extends into Mongolia, and the Tarim Basin, in the northwest.
The rivers in China flow mostly from west to east, as the west is higher in altitude than the east. Some also flow north to south; at least one river, the Huang Ho (Yellow River), flows to the north over part of its course and then turns to the east, and then to the south, ultimately flowing from west to east like other Chinese rivers do.
The Yellow River, in northern China, is one of China's major rivers; another is the Yangtze (Chang Jiang), in the south, which the Three Gorges Dam graces. An enormous (and ancient) canal, the Grand Canal (大运河), runs between the rivers. This canal runs north-south from the vicinity of Beijing to Hangzhou, which is southwest of Shanghai, and its oldest parts date back to the 400s BC, although it was the Sui Dynasty of 581 to 618 CE that combined the sections into a unified canal. The canal connects the Yellow River, famous for its fertile loess soil, with the Yangtze, Qiantang, and possibly other rivers. (The Yangtze is notorious for changing course several times over the centuries, and previous Yangtze courses are identified with rivers such as the Huai River.) Several of China's major cities are on or near the Grand Canal: Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Tianjin, and Beijing.
Another major artificial feature of China, and tourist attraction, is the Great Wall, stretching across northern and northeastern China. This is not a single wall but a series of walls, built by several dynasties (Warring States, Qin, Han, Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Sui, Liao, Jin, and Ming, with the last of those being the most recognizable, as the Ming were the most recent builders).