What is China Known For? 27 Facts You Didn’t Know!

Ever found yourself in the middle of a conversation, scratching your head, thinking, what’s the big deal about China?

Whether it’s their millennia-old history, scrumptious dim sum, or their mammoth role in global affairs, China is a nation that simply can’t be ignored.

Dive into this article as we unwrap the essence of China, peeling back its layers to reveal its most renowned treasures.

From ancient dynasties to modern marvels, we promise a journey that’s as vast and vibrant as the Middle Kingdom itself. Ready to embark? Let’s explore!

stunning view of Great Wall of China
stunning view of Great Wall of China

1. The Great Wall

Who could ever visit China without marveling at the sight of the Great Wall? This colossal masterpiece stretches over 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) and absolutely captures the imagination! Each brick exudes history and heart, teleporting you back to ancient times.

Not only is it a testament to human persistence and ingenuity, but the Wall also showcases China’s unique ability to protect its civilization from invaders. You’ll definitely feel an incredible sense of unity as you explore it.

2. Night Markets

China’s night markets are lively gatherings that are not just your ordinary shopping escapades – they’re a fiesta of colors, flavors, and people-watching opportunities.

As evening falls, streets turn into vibrant mazes of stalls, offering everything from mouth-watering street food to unique handicrafts and clothing.

Be sure to try some local delicacies like crawfish, fried-pouch roll, pork dumplings and even scorpions to fully immerse yourself in these fantastic nocturnal gatherings.

One can’t help but be drawn in by the energy and excitement that emanate from these markets. It’s like stepping into a magical wonderland, where locals and tourists mingle, bargain hunters seek treasures, and the aroma of sizzling treats fills the air.

China’s night markets are more than just shopping venues – they’re cultural melting pots where diverse flavors, languages, and laughs intertwine.

Each market offers a unique atmosphere and a dizzying array of choices, ensuring that no two visits are ever the same. And don’t be shy about haggling – it’s all part of the fun!

3. Confucianism

China is home to a fascinating and influential philosophy known as Confucianism. At its core, it’s all about promoting harmony, balance, and morality in society.

Confucianism started with a brilliant teacher and philosopher named Confucius who was born around 551 BCE. His teachings have had a profound impact on Chinese civilization over the centuries — and yes, they’re still going strong today!

The philosophy is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, covering topics like ethics and civic responsibility. It’s all about fostering peace, harmony, and compassion in society.

If you’re a fan of ancient texts, Confucianism has got you covered with a collection called the Five Classics.

But what does Confucianism actually teach? Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you remember: Confucius believed in leading a well-rounded life which includes family, loyalty, ritual, humility, and yes, a bit of self-improvement.

The principles help to cultivate character and emphasize the importance of good relationships with others.

To sum it up, Confucianism is all about making the world a better place by improving ourselves and strengthening our bonds with others.

Yuyuan Chinese Garden
Yuyuan Chinese Garden

4. Chinese Gardens

Oh, the beauty of Chinese gardens! They are a delightful mixture of art, architecture, and nature, all within a serene and enchanting space.

Chinese gardens are known for their impeccable integration of various arts, including architecture, calligraphy, painting, sculpture, literature, and gardening, truly embodying the Chinese aesthetics philosophy.

The gardens are usually divided into two main categories: the grand and magnificent imperial gardens found in northern China, and the charming and tranquil private gardens, known as southern gardens.

These private gardens in Suzhou are so jaw-droppingly beautiful that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added them to the World Cultural Heritage list in 1997, and they were nominated as one of the Top Ten National Landscapes in China.

If you take a closer look at these marvels, you’ll notice that Chinese gardens cleverly recreate and miniaturize larger natural landscapes.

Typically featuring ornate buildings that blend seamlessly with natural elements, these gardens strike a perfect balance between man-made structures and nature.

Each garden usually contains delightful architecture, captivating decorative rocks, lush green plants, and peaceful water elements, like ponds.

5. Terracotta Army

Get ready to explore one of the most incredible and mind-blowing creations in Chinese history: the Terracotta Army.

Unearthed in 1974, this extravagant display consists of life-sized terracotta sculptures representing the armies of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor.

These statues were meant to safeguard the emperor in the great beyond, because hey, who wouldn’t want an army of clay by their side in the afterlife?

The sheer magnificence of this artistic marvel near Xi’an, Shaanxi province will leave you in awe, as it consists of thousands of soldiers, horses, and chariots.

Did we mention that each soldier is unique? Every figure has distinctive features, making this ancient wonder even more jaw-dropping.

Shanghai Style Soup Dumplings and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings at Red Star Seafood Restaurant
Dim Sum

6. Dim Sum

When you think of China, the vast landscapes, the rich history, and the iconic Great Wall may come to mind. But lurking in the aromatic corners of its bustling streets lies a culinary secret that’s taken the world by storm: dim sum.

Imagine a table bursting with bite-sized morsels of sheer delight, each piece telling a story of ancient traditions and culinary craftsmanship.

From the silken textures of har gow (shrimp dumplings) to the mouth-watering richness of char siu bao (barbecue pork buns), dim sum beckons food lovers with its irresistible charm!

7. Chinese Architecture

You won’t want to miss out on exploring the magnificent structures and rich history of Chinese architecture, which spans over millennia and has influenced architecture throughout East Asia.

First and foremost, let’s appreciate the bilateral symmetry found in Chinese architectural designs. It’s like stepping into a perfectly mirrored world where everything is balanced!

Moreover, Chinese architecture focuses on the use of enclosed open spaces. It’s like having the best of both worlds—indoor and outdoor.

Plus, these designs incorporate feng shui principles, which means your home might radiate positive energy and directional harmony.

We can’t forget about those cosmological, mythological, or symbolic allusions found in Chinese architecture. The intricate carvings and design elements tell stories, add character, and give every building a unique personality.

From imperial palaces that exude grandeur and power to serene religious pagodas, it’s simply astounding how Chinese architecture has evolved over 3,000 years. Each style offers its own charm, and each has its own distinctive features.

8. Tea

So, you’re wondering what China is known for? One word: Tea! This delightful beverage has been enchanting palates in China for centuries.

In fact, tea is such an integral part of Chinese tradition that its production and consumption have driven economic development throughout history.

Did you know that before the 8th century BC, tea was primarily used as medicine in China? Today, it’s not just about its medicinal benefits, but also about the art and philosophy behind the Chinese tea ceremony.

This ceremony embodies Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist ideas, and brings people together over a shared love for tea.

China is the proud origin of several distinct and delectable tea classes, with iconic brands like Tieguanyin, Qimen Hong Cha, Huangshan Mao Feng, and Longjing, each hailing from different provinces with unique flavors.

A Chinese Opera performer
A Chinese Opera performer

9. Peking Opera

Among the many treasures China has to offer, one that stands out is the captivating world of Peking Opera.

Peking Opera is a marvelous form of Chinese opera, which originated in the late 18th century and reached its peak in the mid-19th century.

It’s a harmonious blend of music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics that’s bound to leave you spellbound.

The performances in Peking Opera are rich with culture and emotions. The music is split into two captivating groups: Xipi and erhong. The melodies are so graceful and harmonious, they’ll pull at your heartstrings and make your ears dance.

And let’s not forget the mesmerizing accompaniment of wind instruments, percussion, and stringed instruments that elevate the experience to a whole new level.

The characters in Peking Opera are incredibly diverse and expressive. With vivid and detailed facial paintings, they bring these tales to life and showcase the essence of traditional Chinese culture.

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the impressive bearded Lao Sheng or the charming young Xiao Sheng? Peking Opera performers are masters of their craft and take storytelling to soaring heights!

10. Ping Pong

If there’s one thing that China is incredibly famous for, it’s their undying love for ping pong. Also known as table tennis, this exciting game has become an unofficial national sport in China.

People from all over the country passionately play this game, and with good reason! It’s estimated that around 10 million people play competitive ping pong regularly, and a staggering 300 million play on occasion.

You might wonder why ping pong has become such a massive phenomenon in China. Well, believe it or not, it’s got a lot to do with politics. The famous “Ping Pong Diplomacy” of the 1970s played a significant role in bringing China and the United States closer.

By exchanging table tennis players, these two nations started a historic journey of friendship and cooperation, with ping pong leading the way!

China has consistently dominated this sport on the global stage. Just try keeping up with their lightning-fast reflexes and exceptional skills.

In fact, since 1996, China has only missed out on one gold medal in table tennis, and that was in the men’s singles at Athens 2004.

11. Dragon Boat Festival

Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey through one of China’s most exhilarating cultural events: the Dragon Boat Festival.

With a history that goes back over 2,000 years, you’ll be swept up in a wave of excitement as you learn all about the customs and traditions of this vibrant celebration.

Each year, on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, you’ll find people across China uniting to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu or Double Fifth Festival.

It’s said to commemorate the life and tragic death of Qu Yuan, a revered Chinese poet, and minister. His patriotism and contributions to classical poetry are celebrated to this day, making him a national hero.

Brace yourself for the most exciting part – the dragon boat races! Picture colorful, elaborately decorated boats slicing through the waters like majestic dragons on a mission.

Powered by the rhythmic beat of drums and the coordinated efforts of their rowers, these boats zip through the water at breakneck speeds, all while you, lucky spectator, cheer wildly from the shore.

You can indulge your taste buds in one of the festival’s traditional foods: zongzi. These delicious sticky rice dumplings, often filled with a variety of sweet or savory ingredients, are wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.

Do you need another reason to jump on the Dragon Boat Festival bandwagon? Well, how about its status as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage? This tremendous celebration is recognized worldwide for its cultural significance, making it an event you definitely won’t want to miss.

Dragon boat festival
Dragon boat festival

12. Chinese Painting

If you’re looking to explore one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world, you’ve just stumbled upon a gold mine, Chinese painting.

With a history as rich as its colors, Chinese painting is truly an astonishing part of China’s cultural heritage.

Chinese painting masters don’t just settle for any canvas; they like to use their brushes and colorful inks on either paper or silk.

Now let’s talk style. Unlike those trendy modern art pieces that look like a colorful explosion, Chinese paintings have their very own, distinct style. We’re talking landscapes, nature, animals, and even human figures that are not only elegant but also hold a deeper meaning.

Some of these stunning works of art have been around since the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE) — talk about standing the test of time!

Last but not least, “Art is a reflection of life” and it’s kind of the same for traditional Chinese painting. They often represent the class structure throughout different periods of Chinese history, showing their importance across social classes and cultural evolution.

13. The Forbidden City

At the heart of Beijing lies the mesmerizing Forbidden City. Centuries ago this micro-city was home to important emperors and their courts. Staying true to its name, commoners were forbidden from even sneaking a peek.

This place isn’t just any ordinary city; The Forbidden City is one of the largest and most well-preserved wooden structures in the world. It’s a true architectural marvel, and it demands your undivided attention!

14. Mid-Autumn Festival

The lovely Mid-Autumn Festival is a time when family and friends gather, the moon shines the brightest, and everybody celebrates.

This fantastic festival is more than 3,000 years old and has been an official celebration in China since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE).

It’s all about three magical concepts: gathering, thanksgiving, and praying. Families and friends come together to harvest crops, express gratitude for life’s blessings, and pray for their loved ones and good fortune. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by scrumptious mooncakes and beautiful lanterns?

Talking about mooncakes, did you know these tasty treats play a significant role in the Mid-Autumn Festival? Round like the full moon, these delectable pastries symbolize family reunion and happiness. And don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the marvelous mooncake artistry!

The Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t just about food; it’s also a time for colorful lanterns and vibrant displays. From lantern riddles to lion dances and moon gazing, there’s never a dull moment during this special time.

Mid Autumn festival moon cakes
Mid Autumn festival moon cakes

15. Dragons

Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of Chinese dragons; these legendary creatures hold a special place in Chinese mythology, folklore, and culture.

Fun fact: did you know that Chinese dragons are often depicted as snake-like beings with four legs? Now you do!

In Chinese culture, dragons symbolize so much more than just mythical beasts. They represent imperial power, good fortune, pioneering spirit, and even have control over weather and water.

Also, the dragon is also one of the 12 astrological animals in the Chinese zodiac, with its own unique personality and symbolism.

Not only do dragons hold a significant place in Chinese tales and legends, but they also serve as a symbol of the Chinese nation itself.

That’s right, Chinese people often refer to themselves as the descendants of the dragon. Talk about having some seriously powerful heritage!

In summary, Chinese dragons are an integral part of Chinese culture and mythology. With their majestic presence, they captivate the imagination and symbolize the strength and spirit of the Chinese people.

Next time you encounter a Chinese dragon in art or celebrations, don’t forget the incredible significance and symbolism behind these mythical wonders.

16. Mahjong

Oh, the wonders of Mahjong! By now, you’ve probably heard of this tile-based game that originated in 19th-century China. What you might not know is how deeply rooted it is in Chinese culture and how it has spread across the globe like wildfire.

Mahjong is all about strategy and the thrill of mastering those beautifully engraved tiles. The symbols and characters on the tiles represent different Chinese elements, and let’s be honest, they’re pretty mesmerizing.

The game is usually played by four players, although there are some variations for three players in different regions of Asia.

You’ll find that one of the game’s charms is how it brings people together. From bustling city streets to quiet villages, you’ll often see folks gathering around a Mahjong table, bonding over tactical battles and friendly conversations.

Those lovely little pieces are divided into suits and honors, similar to a deck of cards. As you sharpen your skills, you’ll learn to recognize the intricate details of each tile and how to use them to your advantage.

One of the most exciting aspects of Mahjong is how many different ways there are to play the game. With a boatload of regional variations and modern adaptations, you’ll never be bored.

Ultimately, Mahjong is more than just a game. It’s a symbol of Chinese culture and a beloved pastime that has transcended borders, bringing people together from all walks of life.

17. Kung Fu

Get ready to be amazed by the world of Kung Fu! China is not only famous for its incredible food and rich history, but also for its mind-blowing martial arts.

Not only is it an astonishing form of exercise, but it’s also deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. It boasts both a spiritual dimension and intense physical discipline that develops your inner strength alongside your outer techniques.

It’s also called Wushu or Chinese martial arts and has been an essential part of Chinese culture for centuries. Shaolin Kung Fu is one of its most famous forms, with its origins in the legendary Shaolin Temple.

And who hasn’t heard of Taijiquan (Tai Chi), known for its graceful and flowing movements? These different styles have one thing in common – they require patience, energy, and dedication to master.

Next time you see a Kung Fu movie or a live demonstration, remember – there is more than meets the eye in this fantastic martial art. You’re witnessing not just fancy moves or self-defense techniques, but a beautiful blend of culture, tradition, and personal growth!

Acupuncture a traditional Chinese medical practice
Acupuncture a traditional Chinese medical practice

18. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a fascinating ancient Chinese technique that’s been impressing the world for thousands of years. In fact, this time-honored art has been developed more than 4,000 years ago.

Now let’s dive into what acupuncture is all about – it’s a unique method that involves inserting super-thin needles into specific points of the body.

Why, you might ask? It aims to relieve pain, treat illnesses, and bring balance to your energy flow. The Chinese believe in the power of chi or qi (pronounced chee), the life force that flows in our bodies through pathways called meridians.

The thought of needles might make you wince, but fret not! Acupuncture is more like a soothing, calming experience that’ll have you feeling amazing in no time.

The needles are so fine, and skilled practitioners know precisely how to hit the sweet spots, so it’s often described as a therapeutic and relaxing experience.

One of the best things about acupuncture is that it doesn’t come with a laundry list of side effects. It’s considered part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been honed through centuries to provide a natural, holistic approach to healing.

19. Silk

Known as one of the best materials for clothing, China’s silk production has been turning heads and making wardrobes fabulous for centuries.

Marvel at the fact that China produces approximately a whopping 78% of the world’s silk – that’s around 150,000 metric tons each year!

The answer lies in top silk-producing regions like the famous Hangzhou Yuhang District. Rich in variety, you’ll find everything from silk damask to satin and crepe residing in the heart of this city.

Next time your fingers brush against a flowy piece of silk, remember that it was China who gifted the world this magical fabric.

20. Chinese Medicine

This fascinating world of ancient healing has been around for more than 23 centuries! You might be surprised to learn that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is not just about herbs and acupuncture.

Its foundation lies in the cosmic theory of yin-yang balance, where male and female principles intertwine like lifelong dance partners.

If you’re wondering how TCM practitioners help heal the body without Western technologies, you’ll be amazed by their arsenal of techniques like tai chi, meditation, and herbal remedies!

21. Chinese Cuisine

Get ready to dive into the world of Chinese cuisine, a realm of mouth-watering goodness. From steamy dumplings to lip-smacking noodles, every bite is a party for your senses.

Hidden treasures await, like Kung Pao Chicken, that marvelous Sichuan-style dish that will have you reaching for another helping. Dance with the dazzling flavors of Fujian cuisine, a culinary adventure that’s underrated.

Delicious pork soup dumplings at Dinesty
Delicious pork soup dumplings at Dinesty

22. Calligraphy

China is famously known for its remarkable calligraphy! You might think writing is just, well, writing. However, Chinese calligraphy takes it to a whole new level of artistic expression.

You’re sure to be captivated by the intricate, brush-stroked characters that are not only visually stunning but carry deep cultural significance too.

Chinese calligraphy isn’t just for show and tell; it’s a form of self-expression and cultivation.

23. Panda Bears

China is a vast land with a rich history, mouth-watering food, and, of course, the absolutely adorable Panda Bears! These black and white furry creatures are what everybody thinks of when China comes to mind.

Living in the bamboo forests of central China, pandas are the epitome of cuteness and evoke an instant “aww”.

Pandas, formally known as Giant Pandas, have a deep connection to the nation dating back centuries. Their shy demeanor and exclusive vegetarian diet make them the perfect symbol of peace and tranquility — qualities that resonate throughout the vast Chinese landscape.

They are so crucial that the country even opened a Panda Park for conservation efforts!

24. Chinese New Year

It’s time to talk about Chinese New Year, one of the greatest celebrations which kicks off a brand-new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Chinese New Year is a 15-day festival that’s pure fireworks magic. From delicious feasts with family to lively parades and heartfelt prayers, it encapsulates the essence of Chinese culture and traditions.

Fun fact: this exceptional event has even inspired the Lunar New Year celebrations of various ethnic groups and neighboring countries, such as Tibet’s Losar, Korea’s Seollal, and Vietnam’s Tết!

Big buddha statue in Lantau island
Big buddha statue in Lantau island

25. Buddhism

Let’s dive into the world of Buddhism, one of its most fascinating cultural treasures. Buddhism was brought to China by monks from India during the latter part of the Han dynasty (around 150 CE).

You’ll stumble upon awe-inspiring temples and majestic statues that narrate tales of its ancient spiritual heritage, like the jaw-dropping Leshan Giant Buddha – the world’s largest carved Buddha.

Buddhism in China beautifully blends with Confucianism and Taoism, creating a unique and harmonious spiritual landscape.

26. Lantern Festival

China’s spectacular Lantern Festival is about to light up your life; observed on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar, this vibrant event marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Think dazzling lantern displays, scrumptious sweet rice balls called tangyuan, and a whole lot of fun.

Did you know that it also promotes reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness? Now that’s something we can all get behind!

27. The Chinese Zodiac

China has its own fantastic and unique take on the zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is a showstopping rollercoaster of 12 animal signs that rule a repeating twelve-year cycle.

You’ll be amazed by the cast of characters that strut their stuff on the celestial stage: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

Each boasts its own dazzling array of attributes and forms an inseparable part of Chinese culture’s rich tapestry!

Final Thoughts

In the spectacular whirlwind tour of China we just pranced through, we discovered some jaw-dropping gems.

From the twisty, towering Great Wall to the perfect tastes of dim sum, China is like an endless fortune cookie of wonders – each crack open reveals something more delightful than the last.

Grab your favorite chopsticks, sport those silk pajamas, and keep China’s marvels alive in your heart – because, let’s be real, who could resist another round of kung pao chicken and a twirl under those radiant red lanterns?