Cultures Of China

 Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty, although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a Xia Dynasty before the Shang. Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou Dynasty.

The Zhou Dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn Period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. This is one of multiple periods of failed statehood in Chinese history.

In between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras, including the present, control has stretched as far as Xinjiang and/or Tibet. This practice began with the Qin Dynasty: in 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created the first Chinese empire. Successive dynasties in Chinese history developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the Emperor of China to directly control vast territories. China's last dynasty was Qing, which was replaced by the Republic of China in 1912, and in the mainland by the People's Republic of China in 1949.

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