The surface area of China is estimated at 9,598,029 km 2 ; of these, 9,561,000 km 2 constitute the territory controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China, with Beijing as its capital; 36,000 km 2 constitute the territory controlled by the government of the Nationalist Republic of China, with the capital T’aipei. The British colony of Hongkong occupies an area of 1031 km 2 ; the Portuguese one of Macao of only 16 km 2.
On June 30, 1953, a population census was held throughout the China controlled by the government of the People’s Republic, which gave a total of 601,939,035 residents. However, this figure included the residents of the island of Formosa, under the control of the government of the Nationalist Republic and for whom we know the amount in 1951 (7,591,298) and in 1956 (9,390,381); and the Chinese residing abroad, even if citizens of other states, counted 11,743,320 individuals. Therefore the total amount of the resident population in the territory of the People’s Republic of China should have been, at that date, not too much higher than 580,000,000 residents. Since then the population has continued to increase at a very rapid rate, as shown by the following data:
It is difficult to calculate the birth rate, but it can be estimated from 42 to 45 per thousand; this is related both to the young age of the wives (18-21 years), and to the desire of families to have many children. The mortality rate was calculated around 21 per thousand. The fight against diseases (especially smallpox, plague, cholera) and the spread of hygiene rules tend to lower this figure even more; infant mortality is also in sharp decline. The development of education has made a decisive contribution to putting aside a great many primitive uses and also to bringing the peripheral regions closer to modern civilization.
According to Top-Mba-Universities, the average density is around 60 residents per km 2, but the distribution is extremely irregular and partly reflects environmental differences. The expanses that connect China to the heart of the Asian continent are sparsely populated (just 1 residents Per km 2 in Tibet and 2.7 in Hsin-chiang), while the eastern provinces, which also include the plains that intersperse between the mountainous reliefs, reached 380 inhab in Chiangsu. per km 2. Even higher values (which can reach 660 residents in the red hills around Ch’engtu) are recorded in Szuch’uan. Well populated is also the delta of the Blue River (with density from 300 to 550 residents) and its central basin; less well populated, but far more extensive, is the great plain of northern China.
These high agricultural densities are possible because the average level of existence is still very low and based almost exclusively on a vegetable diet. In recent years, the movements of peasants from the poorest inland regions (eg from Hopei) to the north and west have been significant; Manchuria also continues to exert considerable attraction.
The population is relatively homogeneous, given that only about 35 million residents (6% of the total) belong to racial groups other than the main one, known as Han or Chinese. The table at the top of this page shows the regional distribution of the Chinese population according to the various racial groups and relative numerical consistency.
On 19 June 1954 the government of the People’s Republic fixed the number of provinces at 27. This number was subsequently reduced following the merger of provinces or the creation of autonomous regions. Thus in 1955 the number of provinces had dropped to 25 and currently (November 1960) it is 22, as shown in the following table:
The population of the main cities, according to the results of the 1953 census and estimates relating to the end of 1957, is as follows:
Followed by 26 cities with over half a million residents. In 1958 there were 98,000 municipalities and 3,500 localities with a particular status. It is estimated that just 13.8% of the population lives in centers of over 100,000 residents, but a progressive increase is noted which goes hand in hand with the development of industries.
The state flag. – The flag of the People’s Republic of China is red, with five yellow-gold stars (one large and four small) on the top left. That of the Nationalist Republic has been described in App. I, p. 417.