China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC was established on 1 October 1949 with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. Standard Mandarin is the official national language of China. Chinese characters have been used as the written script for the Sinitic languages for thousands of years.
Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by Confucianism and conservative philosophies. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy, poetry and painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world such as go (known as weiqi in China), xiangqi, mahjong, and more recently chess. China was a world leader in science and technology until the Ming Dynasty. Ancient Chinese discoveries and inventions, such as papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder later became widespread in Asia and Europe. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a broad range of medicine practices sharing common concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (Tui na), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy. TCM is widely used in China and it is also used in the West. Its philosophy is based on Yinyangism, which was later absorbed by Daoism. Chinese cuisine is highly diverse, drawing on several millennia of culinary history and geographical variety, in which the most influential are known as the "Eight Major Cuisines", including Sichuan, Cantonese, Jiangsu, Shandong, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui, and Zhejiang cuisines.