Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Truly, in China, the more things change, the more they remain the
Reasonable and rational people everywhere recognize that China
is not a free country. Freedom House, a distinguished nonprofit, non-
partisan organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C.,
which has promoted democracy, political rights, and civil liberties
worldwide for over 60 years, has ranked China as “Non-Free” (NF)
since it first began publishing its ranks of countries in 1972. China
now lags behind many of its neighboring East Asian nations in terms
of basic human freedoms. Japan, for instance, has always been rated
as completely free by Freedom House. Taiwan progressed from NF to
PF (Partly Free) in 1976 and to F (Free) in 1996. South Korea progressed
from PF to F in 1988. Mongolia's transition to freedom was quick and
dramatic, progressing from NF in 1990 to F in 1991. (Mongolia was
the first and thus far the only Asian nation to overthrow Communist
dictatorship and establish a democracy.) Thailand and the Philippines
have been inconsistently ranked PF and F since the 1980s; since 1972
Singapore has consistently been rated PF.
In the year 2010, China's population was approximately
1,319,000,000, or between a fourth and a fifth of humankind. China
remains the most populous nation on earth, although India will likely
surpass China for this dubious distinction sometime during the next
decade. China is still a rural country, with slightly more than half of
its population living in the countryside. (China today is more urban
than it has ever been before, and urbanization is expected to continue.)
Approximately 67 percent of the population is between the ages of 15
and 64; those below the age of 14 account for 28 percent, and the eld-
erly above age 65 represent the remaining 5 percent.
China officially recognizes 56 “nationalities” or ethnic groups within
its borders. Of these, by far the largest group is the Han (sometimes
simply called “the Chinese”), who compose roughly 92 percent of the
nation's population. The other 55 ethnic groups make up the remaining
8 percent of China's population. Some of the better known of these
minority groups include Tibetans, Mongols, Hui (Muslims), Uighurs,
Manchus, Zhuang, Koreans, Kazaks, Ozbeks, Tatars, and even
Russians! The largest ethnic minority, the Zhuang, includes about
14 million people; the smallest group has fewer than 2,500. All of these
people, according to a political theory currently fashionable in China,
are Chinese (Zhongguo ren). The Han are undeniably the majority
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