China is the most populous country in the world, with an over all population exceeding 1.3 billion. One-fifth of the world's population resides in China, making it the most populous nation of the world. By the end of 1999, 22 percent of the world's total population was from China. This figure, however, do not include lots of Chinese in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Taiwan Province and Macao Special Administrative Region.
In the past, the Chinese were always numerous in numbers. From the time of the Han dynasty, China had towns of half million inhabitants. Over the last three millennia, many previously distinct ethnic groups in China have emerged into a Han identity, which over time dramatically expanded the size of the Han population.
Nonetheless, these assimilations were usually incomplete and vestiges of native language and culture often are still retained in different regions of China. Although over a hundred ethnic groups exist in China, the government of the People's Republic of China formally recognizes a total of 56. The largest ethnic group in China is the Han, which constitutes about 91.9 percent of the total population. Han can be further divided into smaller ethnic groups owing to the diversity of the population within it. However, almost all the groups share some common character. The Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10 million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uyghur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Tujia (5.75 million), Mongolians (5 million), Tibetans (5 million), Buyi (3 million), and Koreans (2 million) are the large ethnic minorities. China had towns of half a million residents already.
By this time Chinese were almost quite developed in the field of medicine. The study of poisons, vegetables and mineral remedies, research on the drugs of immortality, practice of respiratory techniques, physical culture and sexology were all in vogue. The stick that the Chinese used for eating is an example of their strict hygiene. For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese have used sticks for food instead of hand.
Since 1950, China has got to know its first accelerated demographic transition. The population had almost doubled in less than 50 years, with 582, 6 million inhabitants in 1953, 1 billion in 1982 and 1,14 billion inhabitants in 1990. Since July 2006, there are 1,313,973,713 people in China. Among them about 20.8 percent (male 145,461,833; female 128,445,739) are 14 years old or younger, 71.4 percent (male 482,439,115; female 455,960,489) are between 15 and 64 years old, and 7.7 percent (male 48,562,635; female 53,103,902) are above 65 years of age.
The growth rate for 2006 was 0.59 percent with a population density of 130 people per sq km. With an uneven distribution, in the densely populated east coast, there are more than 400 people per sq km; in the central areas the density is around 200; and in the sparsely populated plateaus in the west, there are less than 10 people per sq km. The cities and towns make up 30.4 percent of the total population, while 69.6 percent of the population lives in rural areas. In the last decade China's cities expanded at an average rate of 10 percent yearly. With the help of science and technology, life expectancy of people aged 35-40 years in the beginning of 1950 increased at a great pace to 72.6 years in 2006. The birth rate passed from 45 p. 1.000 in 1953 to 13.25 p. 1.000 in 2006.
Now, the People's Republic of China has a dozen of major cities with one million or more long-term residents, including the three global cities of Beijing, Honk Kong and Shanghai.
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