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China’s national flag

China is one of the oldest civilisations in the world but how much do you know about the country? Here are some facts that may surprise you.

years of making money

China was the first country to make paper money about 1,000 years ago. It has also used a variety of currencies including bronze coins that looked like cowrie shells; hoes and knives; bricks of tea; silver Mexican dollars; and shoes of silver called sycee. In fact, sycee was legal tender until 1935.

of women work

In China, 70 per cent of women work, which is among the highest female employment in the world. In North Africa the figure is less than 30 per cent and in Central America less than 40 per cent.


Chinese people make up roughly one-fifth of the world’s population. China has 23 provinces, covering 3.7 million square miles, and is home to more than 1.3 billion people – the highest population of any country in the world.

cities with more than one million people

By 2025 China will have 221 cities with more than one million inhabitants, compared with 35 cities of the same size in Europe, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. In 2010, 19.5 per cent of China’s population migrated; with nearly 85 per cent moving from rural to urban areas.


There are now more billionaires in Asia than in the US and many of those live in China, according to the Forbes Rich List. In 2000 the list did not contain any billionaires from China; in 2013 there were 122.

of the world’s luxury purchases

A quarter of the world’s luxury purchases are made by Chinese citizens, an increase from 5 per cent in 2007, according to HSBC. Gucci expects China to become its number one market within five years.

hours online

In 2011, the Chinese spent a total of 1.8 billion hours on the internet every day, nearly three times as many hours as US consumers.

Empire State Buildings

Shanghai has twice as many skyscrapers as New York. Between 1990 and 2004 developers erected office space in the city equivalent to 334 Empire State Buildings.

of trade in RMB

Use of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB), is increasing fast. HSBC forecasts that by 2015 China will settle 30 per cent of its trade in RMB, becoming one of the world’s top three trading currencies.

extra graduates

Chinese government and business has placed a huge emphasis on education and training. The number of college graduates could rise by 200 million over the next two decades – more than the entire labour force of the US, according to the World Bank.


Chinese tourists venturing abroad are expected to reach 130 million by 2015, and possibly top 200 million in 2020, three times the current number of US tourists making foreign trips.

China becomes largest economy

China is the second largest global economy behind the US. The World Bank predicts it will become the largest by 2030.


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