Kia’he, Gannan

Here, on the main street of Xia’he, Gannan in the Tibetan Autonomous Region located in northwest China, a man noses through objects in a Tibetan religious shop. With his goatee and Mao-style glasses, he appears to be a traditional Han Chinese. He does not wear the traditional yak fur jacket, a some­what surprising fact as most wear it in winter in Gannan when the temperature plummets. While the vast majority of Han Chinese are not religious, there are some from older generations who have of late turned to Tibetan Buddhism, mixing in various Confucian tenets and Daoist beliefs, thereby creating a very layered and complex religion.
Photo © 2010 Mathilde Verillaud


China/People’s Republic of China
Eastern Asia, bordering East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow and South China Seas, between Korea and Vietnam. Mostly mtns, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills east. 9,596,961 km2 (slightly < USA), 15% arable.

Capital Beijing (12.2M)

Population 1.3B (140/km2)

Life expectancy 75 years


Literacy 92%

Lang(s) Std Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Tawainese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority language
Religions Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3-4%, Muslim 1-2%

Ethnic Groups Han Chinese 91.5%; Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, Miao, Uighur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other 8.5%

Gov’t Communist State

GDP/cap $8,400

PCVs 1993-present; teaching English (TEFL), Chinese, and cross-cultural issues. Volunteers in country: 162. Total to date: 754.

Nat’l holiday Anniversary of founding of People’s Republic of China, 1 October (1949)

indigenous design from China

Egret symbol of longevity and purity.
Copyright © Julie Olsen

Map of the world

Focus word for 2012 - "Friendship"

Chinese Mandarin: You-Yi (You-Ye)
Chinese Cantonese: Yow! Yee (Yow-ee)
Tibetan: Dvokpo (dee-voak-po)


Still Life (Sanxia haoren), Zhang Ke Jia (2006)


River Town
by Peter Hessler
Book Description
Subtitled Two Years on the Yangtze, this 2001 memoir is an account of Hessler's service in the Peace Corps as an English teacher, and first American resident in more than fifty years, in Fuling, a small city in China's Sichuan province.

Kids' Books

Little Eagle
by Chen Jiang Hong; translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick
Publisher: New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-1-59270-071-4
36 pages
Ages: 8-12