Less than a hundred years after its rise to power, the Yuan dynasty was overthrown by the Ming Dynasty.
Under their guidance, China experienced yet another golden age as urbanization increased to accommodate the growing population, and foreign trade grew considerably.
In 1556, during the Jiajing Emperor's reign of the Ming Dynasty, one of the world's deadliest earthquakes of all time occurred in Shaanxi, destroying 520 miles (840 km) of land and towns within 97 counties, and killing 60% of the population.
China's last dynasty was the Qing Dynasty, founded by Manchus, who allied with the Mings after Beijing was seized by the short-lived Shun Dynasty during the 17th century.
At its peak, the Qing Dynasty controlled over one-third of the world's population, and had the largest economy in the world; arguably it was one of the largest empires that ever existed in history.
Unfortunately, throughout the 19th century, China experienced debilitating civil unrest, significant food shortages, military defeats, and foreign occupation that spilled over into the 20th century.
The Republic of China was established on January 1, 1912, subsequently terminating the Qing Dynasty, and a few years later, with help from Soviet Russia, the republic entered into an alliance with the newly formed Communist Party of China.
With the end of World War II, the upstart Communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life, and cost the lives of tens of millions of people.
After 1978, his successo,r Deng Xiaoping, gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision-making.
Those efforts were successful as GDP output quadrupled by the year 2000. Today, political controls still remain tight, but more and more economic controls continue to be relaxed. China's economy is booming and its influence is growing worldwide.
As of 2013, China is the second largest economy in the world, after the United States, and is the largest exporter (2nd largest importer) of goods worldwide.
Tourism, always popular in China, is a growth industry, as the country is one of the most fascinating destinations on the planet.
From the Forbidden City (China's imperial palace during the Ming Dynasty) in Beijing, to the Great Wall spanning east to west along the country's historical northern borders, and moving on towards the southwestern corner of the country where the highest mountain ranges in the world are located, China is loaded with a generous amount of tourist hotspots to explore.
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