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History >> Geography >> Asia >> China

China

Timeline and History Overview

China Timeline

Most of Chinese history can be divided up into a series of dynasties from the start of the Xia dynasty in 2205 BCE to the end of the Qing dynasty in 1912 CE. You can go here to learn more about Ancient China.

BCE

Xia Dynasty (2205 to 1575)

Shang Dynasty (1570 to 1045)

Zhou Dynasty (1045 to 256) Qin Dynasty ( 221 to 206)

The Terracotta Army

Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE)
CE Six Dynasties (222 to 581) Sui Dynasty (589 to 618) Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) Five Dynasties (907 to 960)

Song Dynasty (960 to 1279) Yuan Dynasty (1279 to 1368) Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644)

Skyline of Shanghai

Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) Republican Era (1912 to 1949)
Communist Era (1949 to present)

Mao Zedong

Brief Overview of the History of China

China's history is rich with art, politics, science, and philosophy. It is home to the oldest of the major world civilizations.

China was ruled by various dynasties for much of its history. The first dynasty is believed to be the Xia dynasty which formed somewhere around 2250 BC. The Shang or Yin dynasty gained power around the 14th century BC. The Han Dynasty, which lasted over 400 years from 206 BC to 220 AD, was one of the most influential in China's history. Much of the culture today was created during the Han Dynasty. Later famous dynasties, like the Song and the Tang, continued to refine the culture and bring new innovations to the world including printed money, a permanent navy, and a complex government that ruled over 100 million people.


The Great Wall of China

The last of the great dynasties, the Qing Dynasty, began in 1644. The Ming Dynasty was in power, but was overthrown by the Manchus who put the Qing dynasty into power. During the Qing dynasty, western influences, European trade, and a number of wars all served to weaken China. Great Britain gained control of Hong Kong after the Opium Wars.

In the early 1900s the people of China began to want reform. Revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen created the Chinese Nationalist Peoples Party, also called the KMT or Kuomintang. After Sun Yat-sen died, Chiang Kai-shek became leader of the party. However, Chiang turned on the leaders of the CCP, the communist party, and had many of them killed. The Chinese Civil War broke out between the KMT and the communists. A new leader, Mao Zedong took over the communists and led the CCP on a famous "Long March" to a distant area of China. There they regrouped and eventually gained the strength to force Chiang Kai-shek out of China and to the island of Taiwan.

Mao Zedong established the Peoples Republic of China on October 1, 1949. This new government was strongly allied with the Soviet Union and modeled its government after Soviet communism.

In 1958, Mao Zedong embarked on a new plan called the Great Leap Forward. Unfortunately, this plan backfired and China experienced a terrible famine including much starvation and death. Over the next several decades China would struggle with political reforms and economic policy, slowly recovering and becoming a major world power again. Today, China is a major world power and the second largest economy in the world.

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