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Population: 1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.)

Capital: Beijing (hosting the 2008 Olympics)

Ethnic Groups: The People's Republic of China has many ethnic groups: Han Chinese - 91.9%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uygur, Yi, Mongolian, Buyi and others - 8.1%.

Religion: Buddhism has an estimated 100 million adherents. Traditional Taoism also is practised. Official figures indicate 20 million Muslims, 5 million Catholics, and 15 million Protestants; unofficial estimates are much higher.

Language: The official language is Mandarin (Putonghua).There are many other languages and local dialects.

Climate: Tropical in south to subarctic in north.

Terrain: Plains, deltas, and hills in east;mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west. 

Government: Communist.

Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, crude oil, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite,  aluminium, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest).

Number in New Zealand: 147,570 (2006 census).

Cuisine: There are as many Chinese cooking traditions as there are languages and dialects. Food styles are influenced by region. China has a vast territory that covers deserts, sub-tropical coastlines, steppes, grasslands and mountains so produce and food styles vary widely. Chinese cuisine is highly appreciated all over the world because of its aromatic and delicious flavours. 

The most common Chinese food style in the West is Cantonese cuisine, because historically most Chinese migrants were Cantonese.

Migration to New Zealand: Chinese have been in New Zealand for over 165 years, the majority of the original migrants coming from Guangdong (Canton).The most famous early migrant was Wong Appo Hocton, who arrived in Nelson in 1842, married a European woman, became a farmer, and died in 1920 at the age of 100.

Chinese New Zealand history dates from the goldmining era, when 12 miners came from Australia in 1865 to replace European miners in Otago.By 1868 there were over 5,000 Chinese miners in New Zealand. As the gold ran out they moved to market gardening, then to laundries and fruit shops.There were also Chinese dentists, doctors, tobacco growers, restaurant owners, carvers and gilders as well as rabbiters and sheep
station cooks.

Racism: Chinese were not always welcome in New Zealand.To reduce the number of Chinese immigrants and to ensure a ‘White New Zealand’ an entry tax was imposed. The 1881 ‘Chinese Immigrants Act’ introduced a ‘poll tax’ of £10. In 1896 the poll tax was increased to £100. Although the tax was waived from 1934, it was not repealed until 1944.An estimated 4,500 Chinese people paid the poll tax, raising over £300,000 (worth about $28 million in 2001). In 2002 the New Zealand government apologised to Chinese New Zealanders for the suffering caused by the poll tax and other legislative discrimination, the only nation to do so. Other countries had also imposed a poll tax on Chinese migrants.

Recent History: In 1987 a change in immigration policy allowed Chinese people equal opportunity to migrate to New Zealand.This was the first time since the imposition of the poll tax.The resulting change was dramatic. Pre-1987 the Chinese New Zealand population consisted of 25,000 people, the majority of whom were sometimes referred to as ‘poll tax descendants.’ Post-1987 the majority of Chinese New Zealanders are from urban areas and mostly speak Mandarin. In the 2006 census there were 147,570 people listed as Chinese New Zealanders.

Did you know?
  • China has 20% of the world’s population.
  • To slow the population growth China has had a one-child policy since 1979.
  • China is the 4th largest country in the world.
  • China has many inventions that contribute to the modern world; paper was first created from papyrus found in China. Other inventions include the wheelbarrow (the wheel), cast iron, the iron plough, the suspension bridge, parachute, compass, matches, raised relief maps, the propeller, cross bow, explosive powder, the cannon, printing and the first calendar.The Chinese were the first to use natural gas as fuel.
  • China has compulsory military service of 2 years for all men between 18 and 22. Women of the same age group are recruited for specific military jobs.
  • The Chinese language has over 20,000 characters, although the average Chinese person only learns about 5,000.
  • Acupuncture originated over 5000 years ago in China.
  • Ice cream was 'invented' in China in 2000 BC, by packing a milk and rice mixture in the snow.
Subpages (1): Recipes from China