Steeped in history, home to a staggering array of natural and man-made landmarks and boasting an endlessly intriguing culture, China is Asia’s dragon in more ways than one

Roughly equivalent in size to the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China is home to more than four times as many people and is at least as diverse geographically and culturally as its fellow superpower, if not more so. Boasting a history of nearly 4,000 years, China is home to an exceptionally eclectic range of world-class tourist attractions, from the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors of Xian and Beijing’s Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven to the spectacular Yangtze and Li Rivers, Huangshan’s Yellow Mountains, the Silk Road and, of course, the nation’s famed Giant Pandas, which can be encountered up close at a number of zoos nationwide. In 2010, a staggering 40 Chinese sites were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Beyond that, China’s fascinating cuisine and culture – think dim sum, green tea, kung fu, dragonboating, Confucianism, Beijing Opera, the cheongsam and acupuncture among many others – are well worth exploring just about anywhere you happen to find yourself while on a visit to the self-described “Central (a.k.a. Middle) Kingdom.”