The People's Republic of China (PRC) sits as the largest nation in Asia, bordering the Pacific ocean and more than a dozen other nations. It is the second-largest nation in the world and has the largest population with over 1.4 billion people. Even small cities can be larger than large cities in America, and they are scattered across the nation. Consequently, while places like Beijing and Shanghai have several universities, there are still hundreds more well-ranked colleges in smaller towns.
Geographically, China covers almost every possible type of landscape. Due to its sheer size, it includes ocean coastline, rocky mountain ranges, forested steppes, hilly plains, deadly deserts, and subtropical forests. The ocean coastline extends 9,000 miles, stretching from north to south. There are four significant mountain ranges dividing China from its neighbors -- the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir, and Tian Shan. Then there are the Yangtze and Yellow rivers (the 3rd and 6th largest in the world respectively). China is close enough to Japan and Korea that ferries run between the nations daily. There are also constant flights to Hong Kong, Taiiwan, Thailand, and other popular tourist locations.
China is one of the oldest nations in the world; and it has been a large empire for most of that time. It boasted of dozens of legendary monarchies and dynasties, the fabled end to the Silk Road, and centuries of political and natural history. It is currently one of the largest and fastest-growing economies, and in 2013 became the world's 2nd largest economy in GDP and PPP. It is also the largest exporter and importer of goods. Pollution has become an issue for students studying in the major cities of China; however, the country has begun to adapt to its new role in the world economy and is currently working hard to improve the situation.
Politically, China is controlled by the Communist Party, with the government centered in Beijing. The country is split into twenty-two provinces in total; however there are also five atonomous regions. These special regions are considered to have higher than normal populations of minorities and are thus given more legislative freedom. The cities of Beijing (Peking), Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing are actually municipalities boasting their own mini-governments, but are still ultimately answerable to the national government. Then there is Hong Kong and Macau. Macau is a special administrative region that has its own rules and laws, while Hong Kong is partially under Chinese control. Full control of Hong Kong is set to transfer over to China in 2017. It is currently a member of the U.N., WTO, APEC, BRICS, Shanghai Coop. Org., BCIM, G-20.