China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. Its long and rich history is present in people's thinking and values, and in the art, architecture, and feats of engineering that remain from dynasties past.
As the dominant power in the region for much of its history, China exported much of its culture to neighboring Vietnam, Korea and Japan, and Chinese influences can still be seen in the cultures of these countries. Chinese civilization has endured millennia of tumultuous upheaval and revolutions, golden ages and periods of anarchy. Through the economic boom initiated by the reforms since the 1980s, China has returned to its place as a major political and economic world power, buoyed by its large, industrious population and abundant natural resources. The depth and complexity of the Chinese civilization, with its rich heritage, has fascinated Westerners such as Marco Polo and Gottfried Leibniz in centuries past, and will continue to excite — and bewilder — the traveler today.