China Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

China Country Overview

Where is China located? China is located in East Asia and includes both the Chinese Empire, the People’s Republic of China (PR) and the Republic of China (ROC). On the world time zone map, countries are divided into world time zones based on their time offset from the official world time (also called UTC). Due to China’s large area, there are 5 time zones in China. However, since 1949 there has only been one official standard time, the ‘China Standard Time’ (CNST). This is UTC+8, which puts China 8 hours ahead of world time. However, it is only 7 hours ahead of Central European Time (MET).

China National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of China is 1,394,015,977, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 1,394,015,977
Population growth rate 0.32%
Birth rate 12.30 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 74.99 years
Men 72.96 years
Women 77.27 years
Age structure
0-14 years 17.22%
15-64 years 71.51%
65 years and above 11.27%
Median age 36.80 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.06
Population density 145.26 residents per km²
Urbanization 38.60%
56 “nationalities”: 91.6% Han Chinese, 1.3% Zhuang, 0.8% Hui, 0.8% Manchu, 0.8% Uyghur, 0.7% Miao, 8.4% other: Mongols, Koreans, Kazakhs, Tibetans
Popular religions 20.1%; Buddhists 6%; Muslims 4.2%; Christians 0.2% others 0.1%; Non-denominational 71.2% [grade: officially atheist]
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.758
HDI ranking 85th out of 194

People in China

The most populated country in the world

Most of the people on earth live in China. It now has 1.4 billion residents. Every fifth person on earth lives in China. Only India comes close with its population, because around 1.1 billion people live there. China is the country with the highest population in the world. By the way, in 1953 it was less than half. The population in China has actually doubled within a few decades. And it will continue to grow.

A growing population

But while we in Germany would be happy about an increasing population, the Chinese are not at all happy about this growth. The so-called “one-child policy” has existed since 1979. This means that the communist government stipulated that the Chinese could only have one child per family. That worked quite well in the cities. In the country, however, it was not so easy to enforce this regulation, which intrudes deeply into people’s private lives. Here people are allowed to have two children per family. Even if the strong growth of the population was slowed down, there are also many negative consequences of this policy for China (compare everyday life: Consequences of the one-child policy in China). These regulations have now been relaxed. Couples can have two children if they have government permission. There are now Chinese families who want a third child. They often have to pay a heavy fine and run the risk of losing their jobs. Forecasts assume that the Chinese population will continue to grow until 2030 and then the population will decline.

The Han Chinese

Most of the Chinese belong to the so-called Han Chinese. 90 out of 100 Chinese belong to the Han population, as it is often abbreviated. The Han Chinese were established after a 3rd century BC dynasty. Named BC.

There are also 55 other nationalities that are officially recognized. The largest group is that of the Zhuang. These belong to the Thai people and live mainly in the autonomous region of Guangxi. The Hui and Uighurs who live in the Tibet Autonomous Region are other larger populations. Other minorities include the Mongols, Kazakhs, Yi and Miao. There are also 20 additional groups that are not recognized, including the Sherpa, for example, who live in eastern Nepal, but also in the mountainous regions of China, and often work as load carriers for mountaineers.

Where do people live in China?

Most of the people live in the fertile east of the country. The longest river in China also flows here. People farm on the banks. Only ten out of 100 Chinese live in the west with the Himalayan mountains, in the great deserts in the east and the hard-to-reach regions. However, most of the minorities also live here. Many of these strive for independence, as in Tibet or Xinjiang. The provinces in the west are the poorest and so are the people who live there.


In China, too, there is so-called urbanization, which means that more and more people are moving from the countryside to the city. That’s why the Chinese cities are growing pretty fast. Since 2011, more than half of the Chinese have lived in cities and the number is increasing. This is quite problematic for the environment. But because many people cannot find work in rural areas, they move away. One billion Chinese people are expected to live in cities by 2025.

Languages in China

Since China is home to most of the world’s people, Standard Chinese is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the world. Standard Chinese is also the official language in China. By that we mean mandarin. But since China is huge and so many different population groups live there, there are also many different dialects in the individual regions of the country. Germany is much smaller, but here, too, a person from Munich sometimes has a hard time understanding a hamburger and vice versa. Whereby one should correctly differentiate between different languages ​​rather than dialects in China. In the south they speak Cantonese, which is like a language of its own and is spoken by many millions of people.

Religions in China

The Chinese constitution now guarantees the right to exercise one’s religion freely again. But the communist government tries to keep the influence of religions on the population as low as possible. Religion and state are strictly separated from each other. Most Chinese are officially without religion, which is then called non-denominational. But there are many people in China who are followers of Confucianism, Daoism or Buddhismare. Most religious Chinese are Buddhists. In China, religion is often mixed with philosophy. Sometimes the religions also mix. So a Christian can also visit a Buddhist temple. This is not unusual in China.