China is on the other side of the world. It is called The Far Eastbecause in the old days, it was the farthest land to the east of Europe. From the Americas it is a little faster to go west but you have to go really far over the Pacific Ocean. It takes a full day to travel to China by air. If you took a boat, it would take ten days since the Pacific is the biggest ocean in the world!
When it is daytime in the west, it is night time in China because the Sun can only see half of the world at one time. When the Earth spins half way around, it is bed time in the west, but the Chinese are just beginning their day. What happens when the world spins around all of the way?
China is the fourth biggest country in the world even though it has the most people. Russia is the biggest, Canada is next and the United States is third because Alaska is huge! But, China has three times more people than all three of those countries put together.
Since China has so many people, parents are only allowed to have one child. That means that only one in every seven people in China are kids. It also means that the children get really spoiled with both parents and all four grandparents to themselves.
China has most of the biggest cities in the world too. They have almost 170 cities with more than one million people. There are only 30 cities that big in Europe and 10 in the United States. Wow!
People live much closer together in China and are around other people almost all of the time. In order to be polite and give people their privacy, the Chinese ignore each other and sometimes dont even know that other people are around them. In the west this seems rude, but the Chinese think it is most polite.
China has more trains and subways than any other country in the world. Over 100 million Chinese travel by train to go to work and visit other cities every day. During the holidays, there are as many people on trains in China as there are living in all of North America. Thats a lot of trains, and that is a lot of people!
Some trains go 300 miles per hour and carry over 3000 people. Thats like 10 big airplanes taking off all at once. With fast trains, it is often faster to go by train than to take an airplane.
Beijing is the capital of China and many emperors built greatpalaces there. They also built a very long, tall wall to protect the city and empire. It is called The Great Wall and is more than 5,500 miles long. That is long enough to separate the United States from Canada!
People used to say that The Great Wall could be seen from outer space, but once we got to outer space we had to stop saying that. However, it is the longest and largest thing ever built by man, taking one million man-years in all.
The first ruler of China was Emperor Chin. He stopped all of the other kings from fi ghting and brought the people of the area together for the first time over 2000 years ago. Emperor China is considered the father of China and was buried with an army of 10,000 clay soldiers to protect him in his after-life. The name of the clay is Terracotta.
Each soldier is bigger than a grown man and none of them areexactly the same since they were all hand made. Emperor Chinsterracotta army had foot soldiers, chariots, horsemen, musicians, advisors, doctors and acrobats.
China had many famous teachers too. One of the most famous teachers was Confucius. He studied very hard so he could serve the emperor, but he could not pass the tests. He decided to become a teacher and taught people to be obedient to their parents and elders, to take care of those younger than themselves and to be kind and courteous to everyone.
China had many other great thinkers who invented some veryimportant things a long time ago. Can you name some of them?
Around 1500 years ago a man named Bodhi traveled over thehighest mountains in the world in his sandals to bring Buddhism to China. He came from India to visit with Emperor Wu. Along his journey, Bodhi saw many interesting animals and studied how they moved. He created his own exercises from the animal movements and called it The 18 hands of Lohan. These exercises were the beginning of Kung fu and are thought to be the very rst martial arts in the world.
After meeting Emperor Wu, Bodhi traveled to a small littlemonastery in the middle of China and taught the monks hisexercises so they would be strong enough to sit still and think for many hours at a time. He also wanted them to be healthy and defend themselves when robbers came.
China uses one of the oldest ways to write in the world and it is very hard to learn. Each word is called a character. Each character was like a little picture at first, but today they have become much harder to guess by looking at them.
Kids must study very hard to learn 5,000 characters before they can go to college. Do you think you can draw any of them?
In China, people eat with chopsticks instead of using a fork and spoon. Chopsticks are a pair of sticks the size of pencils that are squeezed together like tweezers to pick up food. They are very hard to eat with even if you know how to use them. A lot of food is dropped on the table, floor and laps in China.
The Chinese love to eat rice and have it every day. But they also like to eat western food like hamburgers, donuts, pizza and ice cream. Yum!
Many great people have visited China. Some came as teachers, some came as traders, some even came to conquer the land and build the biggest empires in the world. Do you know any of these people?
The Chinese are very curious. They love to talk to westerners andask all sorts of questions like; where do you live, what is your schoollike and, what do you do for fun? What would you ask them?