For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties, beginning with the Xia dynasty (c., when the Qin dynasty conquered the other largest six states to form the first unified Chinese empire, China has then expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times in the following millennia.In 1912, The Republic of China (ROC) replaced the last dynasty, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949, when it was defeated by the communist People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War.Many independent states eventually emerged from the weakened Zhou state and continually waged war with each other in the 300-year Spring and Autumn period, only occasionally deferring to the Zhou king.
The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia.
The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third and sixth longest in the world, respectively, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard.
China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China, and South China seas.
China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain.
The Communist Party established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with its present de facto temporary capital in Taipei.