Capital : Beijing; 10,849,000
Area: 9,596,960 square kilometres (3,705,405 square miles)
Language: Chinese (Mandarin), Cantonese, other dialects and minority languages
Religion: Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim
Currency: Yuan, also referred to as the Renminbi
GDP per Capita: U.S. $4,700
China is the world s most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people—20 percent of the Earth s population. Occupying most of East Asia, it is the fourth largest country in area (after Russia, Canada, and the U.S.). China s geography is highly diverse, with hills, plains, and river deltas in the east and deserts, high plateaus, and mountains in the west. Climate is equally varied, ranging from tropical in the south (Hainan) to subarctic in north-eastern China (Manchuria).
Education in China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. All citizens must attend school for at least nine years, known as the nine-year compulsory education, which the government funds.
It includes six years of primary education, starting at age six or seven, and three years of junior secondary education (junior middle school) for ages 12 to 15. Some provinces may have five years of primary school but four years for junior middle school. After junior middle school, there are three years of senior middle school, which then completes the secondary education.
The Ministry of Education reported a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools. In 1985, the government abolished tax-funded higher education, requiring university applicants to compete for scholarships based on academic ability. In the early 1980s the government allowed the establishment of the first private school, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold from 1995 to 2005.
In 2003 China supported 1,552 institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) and their 725,000 professors and 11 million students (see List of universities in China). There are over 100 National Key Universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University. Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. China published 184,080 papers as of 2008.
China has also become a top destination for international students. As of 2013, China is the most popular country in Asia for international students, and ranks third overall among countries.
Laws regulating the system of education include the Regulation on Academic Degrees, the Compulsory Education Law, the Teachers Law, the Education Law, the Law on Vocational Education, and the Law on Higher Education. See also: Law of the People s Republic of China.
Although Shanghai and Hong Kong are among the top performers in the Programme for International Student Assessment, China s educational system has been criticized for its rigorousness and its emphasis on test preparation.