To Your Heart's Content

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

China Stats, etc.

Was incommunicado there for a lil’ bit but am now back on. Don’t worry, no injuries on the bike, no avian influenza, no pneumonia or cough. Just happened to go on a tangent for a while, which was a wonderful thing. Funny though, I live with a Chinese family and I am sure they were just shocked at how fast my lifestyle and its rhythms can change. Of course, this happens to be a pattern in my life which I’ve gotten used to; that is, stability, quotidian routine, set schedule that rarely changes….and then all of a sudden, boom! Everything is thrown into a very fragile yet ordered chaos! Gotta love the vagaries of life, the only constant ever known to history and to human beings: change!

Otherwise, Beijing is getting a hell of a lot colder, that is, snot-freezing cold, and did so within a matter of two days. Literally, the temp went in two days from about 55 to 30 to 10 (Celsius: 12 to 0 to -12)! That is from two layers to three layers to four layers of clothing. Good news is, the weather is clearing up and we are actually getting blue skies and relatively clear air almost everyday.

Found some interesting stats on China. Most of the following information I got from Encarta. Especially eye-opening is the population growth…

--More than one-fifth of the world’s population—1.3 billion people—live in China. More than 90 percent of these are ethnic Han Chinese, but China also recognizes 55 national minorities (as opposed to Indonesia's over 1500), including Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Zhuang, Miao, Yi, etc.
--Forests now cover only 17 percent of the country's total area, compared with 25 percent in the United States and 46 percent in Canada. Programs to convert open land into forests have increased the extent of forestland from about 8 percent of the total area in 1949 to 17.1 percent in 2000! China can certainly get things done!
--In 1850, China’s population had surpassed 400 million. In 1953, China’s population was an estimated 582,600,000. By 2005: 1.3 billion. Projected population (under one-child policy est. in 1979, 0.59% growth) 2050: 1,417,630,630. Interestingly however, the Philippines population density is greater than that of China’s.
--Religious affiliations: Officially atheist, but traditionally eclectic. Nonreligious 42 percent; Buddhist 8 percent; Atheist 8 percent; Christian 7 percent; Muslim 1 percent; Other 34 percent
--The Chinese written language has existed for more than 3,000 years and has been standardized for more than 2,000 years.
--It is estimated that as late as 1949 only 20 percent of China’s population was literate. To the Chinese Communists, this widespread illiteracy was a stumbling block in the promotion of their political programs. By 2004 China’s literacy rate had reached 87 percent
--University education remains difficult to attain; as many as 2 million students compete each year through entrance examinations for 500,000 university openings--now that's competition!
--China invented paper, compass, gunpowder, tofu…
--China will soon (2009) have the largest dam (Three Gorges Dam, soon to be the largest electricity-generating facility in the world, damming world’s third largest river, the Yangtse, second to Nile and Amazon). It also has the largest bowling alley, mall, and will soon have the highest train ascent (to Tibet).
--China is the third country to send an astronaut to space, after Russia and America.
--unofficial estimates place the number of executions by capital punishment from 10,000 to 50,000 per year.
--According to the Economist, there were 74,000 protests in China in 2004, involving more than 3.7m people; up from 10,000 in 1994 and 58,000 in 2003. This amounted to between 120 and 250 protests (involving more than 100) daily in urban areas, and 90 to 160 in villages. These numbers are likely to be conservative. There was one recently in the news where protesting farmers were shot and killed by paramilitary (see sidebar link: China)
--In 2002 China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $1,266.1 billion. The size of the country’s economy is comparable to that of Canada($714 billion) yet in 2002 China’s per capita GDP was just $990, compared to $22,780 in Canada
--China's total catch of fish, shellfish, and mollusks in the 1990s was more than that of any other nation.
--In 1996 China produced 101 million metric tons of steel, ranking first in the world.--The Chinese textile industry is the largest in the world.


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