Its King Zheng proclaimed himself the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (Qín Shǐhuáng or Shǐ Huángdì).
He enacted Qin's legalist reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of Chinese characters, measurements, road widths (i.e., cart axles' length), and currency.
It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau), and claims sovereignty over Taiwan.
China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential superpower.
China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south.
The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia.
The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third and sixth longest in the world, respectively, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard.
China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China, and South China seas.
China is one of the cradles of civilization, with its known history beginning with an ancient civilization – one of the world's earliest – that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain.
For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties.
Since 221 , when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the state has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times.