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China’s geographic area is slightly larger than the United States, and it covers similar latitudes, with the lion’s share located in the temperate zone. This provides endless year-round variety for visitors, from ice festivals in the north to tropical beach resorts in the south.
Keep in mind the vast distances between destinations when planning your trip. Traveling along the popular Golden Route (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Guilin) is the rough equivalent of visiting Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Miami, all in one trip.
Weather-wise, Shanghai and Guangzhou’s climates resemble those of US southeastern coastal states, while Beijing’s climate is more like Chicago’s.
While China is a year-round destination, the months of May, September, and October are ideal months for travel anywhere in the country.
In the north, the winters are cold, and summers are warm, with moist monsoon air streams making it hot (80% of China’s rainfall occurs between late May and early October, mostly in the Southern regions). June through August is a good time to visit central and northern China and spring and autumn are the best months for travel in Southern China. March and April are the lower-priced shoulder season; while the lowest price, off-season travel is from November through the winter months. This is when adventuresome travelers are rewarded with unbelievably low prices and far fewer fellow tourists.
Chinese is a group of related but in many cases mutually unintelligible language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China. Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world’s population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
The varieties of Chinese are usually described by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, but linguists note that they are as diverse as a language family.[a] The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but may be even more varied. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken by far is Mandarin (about 960 million), followed by Wu (80 million), Yue (60 million) and Min (70 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and certain Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility. All varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic.