China (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國; literally "the Centre Kingdom") is a cultural region, a civilization, and a country in East Asia, that is home to one-fifth of the world's population.
China is the world's oldest continuous civilization, consisting of states and cultures dating back more than 5,000 years. Its history has been largely characterized by repeated divisions and reunifications amid alternating periods of peace and war, and violent imperial dynastic change. The country's territory expanded outwards from a core area in the North China Plain, and varied according to its changing fortunes to include regions of East, Northeast, and Central Asia. For centuries, Imperial China was also one of the world's most technologically advanced civilizations, and East Asia's dominant cultural influence, with Chinese religion, customs, and writing systems being adopted to varying degrees by neighbors such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and having an impact lasting to the present day.
China also has the world's longest continuously used written language system, the Chinese language, and is the source of many major inventions, such as the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China: paper, the compass, gunpowder, and the printing press. Its landscape is diverse with forest steppes and deserts in the dry north near Mongolia and Russia's Siberia, and subtropical forests in the south close to Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. The terrain in the west is rugged and high altitude, with the Himalayas and the Tian Shan mountain ranges forming China's natural borders with India and Central Asia, while in contrast, China's eastern seaboard is low-lying and has a 14,500-kilometre long coastline bounded on the southeast by the South China Sea, and on the east by the East China Sea.
Since 1949, and as a result of the stalemate of the Chinese Civil War, two political entities have been using the name "China": the People's Republic of China, which is often what is meant by the term China, and the Republic of China, which is more commonly known as Taiwan.