China is not only the country of stunning landscapes, but most importantly of extensive culture and fascinating history. Even a lifetime wouldn’t be enough to explore both in detail! Before you come to China with China Tours and China Flights, get to know the basics of Chinese civilisation and read through some essential facts from Chinese history.

Xia Dynasty (20th to 18th/17th century BC) – the first dynasty to rule kingdoms in China, however, there is no archaeological evidence for events that took place during that time.

Shang dynasty (18th/17th to 11th century BC) – invention of Chinese writing (first written records in the history of China)

Zhou dynasty (11th to 3rd century BC) – rise of Confucianism and Taoism; expansion of Chinese civilisation and imperial territory. During both periods of Zhou dynasty, the position of the king was weak; it wasn’t until the end of the era that all Chinese kingdoms were united. It was the longest lasting dynasty.

Qin dynasty (3rd century BC) – one of the most important Chinese dynasties; Zhou king, Ying Zheng, proclaims himself the First Emperor. Even though it lasted only 12 years, during that period China became a power. For the first time in Chinese history a strict legal code was introduced. The construction of the Great Wall began. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an is attributed to the first Qin Emperor.

Han dynasty (202BC to 220AD) – Confucianism adopted as the main ideology; great development of arts and sciences took place. Opening of the Silk Road marked the beginning of trade between the East and West. Following the Han dynasty, in the Three Kingdom period, the great novel of China ‘The romance of the Three Kingdoms’ was written.

Sui dynasty (6th – 7th century AD) – after almost 400 years (Jin period and Northern and Southern dynasties) the country was reunited.

Tang dynasty (7th to 10th century AD) – one of the great and most prosperous Chinese dynasties; territory was expanded to modern Siberia, Korea and Vietnam. Buddhism was adopted as a predominant religion. Empress Wu became the first and only woman in Chinese history to rule the country.

Song dynasty (10th to 13th century AD) – great advances in technology, culture (especially poetry) and economics.

Yuan dynasty (13th to 14th century AD) –Beijing became the capital of China for the first time. It was established by the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan and was the first non-Han dynasty to rule the united China. There are historical records describing Marco Polo’s journey to China. Beijing Opera was invented.

Ming dynasty (14th to 17th century AD) – one of the most important dynasties; dynamic urbanisation (Beijing and Nanjing) and development of industries. During that period, the Forbidden City was established and reached its splendour. The Great Wall was repaired and completed.

Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911) – one of the most famous dynasties; it was the second non-Han dynasty (Manchu) and the last one to rule China. It was an era of an economic decline, rebellions and conquests. The most complete dictionary of Chinese characters was written. Important historical events, such as Opium Wars and Sino-Japanese War took places in that period. Under international and domestic anti-imperial pressures, in 1911 the Empire ceased to exist.

Republic of China (1911 to 1949) – efforts to redefine the country after the imperial era; rise of nationalism under Sun-Yat Sen and Chiang Kai-shek; communist movement began in 1920s.

People’s Republic of China (1949 till present) – establishment of socialism under Mao Zedong; in 1980s and 1990s rapid economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping took place. In 2011, China became world second largest economy.

As hard as it is to describe whole history of China in 600 words, this article should serve as a reference for you during your time in China. Basic historical knowledge is essential when sightseeing and will help you get the most of your trip. Consult China Travel in case of any questions.


Jack Li
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