China evince varied landscape and disparate climate. The range of the climate reach from subartic to tropical. China’s topography reach from deserts in the northwest over the Tibetan plateau to the world’s highest peak in the Himalaya in the southwest. In the centre of China picturesque river valleys and vast plains show up. These geographically features of China dictated where the Chinese people live and how they make their livelihood.
The majority people in China live in the east. In the low-lying hills and central plains only few peasants are living, they do as their forbears did. The government continues the concern about the output of the fields and the food supply. So, migration to urban areas is restricted since 1950s. In 1985, 37 per cent of the population was urban.
With the industrialisation an unbalance occurred between east and west which is believed to change only little. Even though the west is mineral-rich and agricultural productive. Difficult living circumstances lead to a low dense of population in these areas, which is also a reason for the increasing unbalance. Only ethnic minority groups have settled down there.
In 1987, there were 55 recognised minority groups in China. Which made 7 per cent of the total population. These groups mainly located in military sensitive border areas and strategic minerals areas. The government tried to keep a good relationship with the minorities. Though minorities played only a superficial role in the major affairs of the nation. The ethnically diverse population is the largest in the world.
In 1982 a census was taken under Communist rule. This census confirmed that China is a one billion nation or has one-fifth of the world population. Reliable information like age-sex structure, fertility, mortality rates, population density and distribution, minority ethnic groups, urban population and marital status could be gained.
Since the 1950s population control played a role in China. In 1979, the one-child policy was introduced. That means that married couples were officially permitted to have only one child. That excludes national minorities. The enforcement of the program varies from place to place.
Since 1949 a huge progress in the improvement of health care was made. Disease like cholera, typhoid and scarlet fever is under control. The life expancy more than doubled and the infant mortality dropped significantly. The leading causes of death changed to the incidence of cancer, cerebrovascular disease and heart disease, which all have been increased.
In the 1980s liberalized emigration policies facilicated the legal departure of increasing numbers of Chinese who joined their overseas Chinese relatives and friends. The Four Modernizations program, which required access of Chinese students and scholars, particularly scientists, to foreign education and research institutions, brought about increased contact with the outside world, particularly the industrialized nations.