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It is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, next to Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, or one-fifteenth of the world's landmass. It begins from the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli Rivers (135 degrees and 5 minutes east longitude) in the east to the Pamirs west of Wuqia County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (73 degrees and 40 minutes east longitude) in the west, with about 5,200 kilometers apart. In the north, it starts from the midstream of the Heilong River north of Mohe (53 degrees and 31 minutes north latitude) and stretches south to the southernmost island Zengmu'ansha in the South China Sea (4 degrees and 15 minutes north latitude), with about 5,500 kilometers in between. The Chinese border stretches over 22,000 kilometers on land and its coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometers, washed by the waters of the Bohai Sea, the Huanghai, the East China and the South China Seas. The Bohai Sea is China's only inland sea.

There are 6,536 islands larger than 500 square meters, the largest being Taiwan, with a total area of about 36,000 square kilometers, and the second, Hainan. The South China Sea Islands are the southernmost island group of China.

CAPITAL: Beijing (Area: 16,800 square kilometers; Population: 12.59 million)

POPULATION: 1.2591 billion (1999), about 22% of total population in the world.

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