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China Travel Information


Brief Introduction
Location
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Religion

China is a multi-religious country. Taoism, Buddhism, Islamism, Protestantism and Catholicism have all developed quite a following in this country. Nearly all of the world's great religions have a past and a present in China. The overwhelming majority of the Chinese population are non-religious, but Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity are practiced by a considerable portion of the people.

BUDDHISM: Buddhism spread to China during the 2nd century AD, and has had a considerable influence on Chinese thought, art and culture, even though only a fraction of the population have accepted Buddhism as their religion. Famed age-old monasteries throughout the country are well-maintained as tourist attractions, in addition to their role as places for religious practice. The most notable monasteries are found in the shadows of the four Buddhist Holy Mountains: Mt. Wutai in Shanxi Province, Mt. Putuo in Zhejiang Province, Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui Province and Mt. Emei in Sichuan Province.

TAOISM: Along with Buddhism, Taoism casts prominent themes in Chinese religious and philosophical thought. As the only truly indigenous Chinese religion, Taoism was founded 1,800 years ago. Its thought is based on the ideas recorded in the classic book "Dao De Jing", said to be authored by Taoism's major proponent, Lao Zi, in the 6th century BC.

ISLAM: Islam represents China's largest organized religious group, with large Moslem communities found in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyguar Autonomous Region and Ningxia Huizu Autonomous Region, and in most of the cities along the ancient Silk Road, the Grand Canal, and the southeast sea coast. Grand mosques dating as far back as the Tang Dynasty -9th century AD- remain active in Xian, Hohhot, Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Hangzhou, and Beijing.

CHRISTIANITY: Christianity first came to China in the 7th century, introduced by Nestonian Christians from Persia. Today, some estimates put China's Christian population at more than 8 million.

JUDAISM: Jewish settlers arrived in China as early as the middle of the 10th century, establishing their first synagogue in the city of Kaifeng of Henan Province in 1163. Their descendants have been gradually assimilated into the Chinese ethnic and social fabric, with the result that Judaism is no longer practiced. Shanghai and Tianjin supported large communities of Jewish migrants prior to 1949, with virtually no surviving traces.

CONFUCIANISM: Not a religion but rather a system of social philosophy and ethics, Confucianism continues to influence East Asia almost 2,500 years after the death of Confucius. Qufu, 108 miles south of Jinan in Shandong Province, is the native town of Confucius. Qufu's ornate Confucius Temple, the largest such structure in the world, covers more than 50 acres of ground in red and gold-tiled splendor. Confucius (551-479 BC) and his legion of descendants evolved into one of the most politically influential familial clans in China's history. The Confucius Family Mansion, a maze of nine interlocking courtyards and more than 400 rooms, attests to the clan's power and prestige. More than 200,000 Confucius family tombs can be found in the nearby Confucian Forest Cemetery.

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