Every year, Canada welcomes people who move here to begin a new life. The Chinese have been immigrating to Canada since the 19th century, although for many years Canadian laws discriminated against them. Cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have large Chinatowns. Recent political events such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 have also increased Chinese immigration to Canada.

You may be reading this profile because you are a volunteer in an organized HOST program. You may have Chinese colleagues at your workplace, or Chinese students at your school. Whatever your source of interest, this profile will help you learn something about China and the people who live there. The profile concentrates mostly on the history and culture of the Han people, the largest ethnic group in China and the people most often found in Canada. However, another 67 million people belong to China's 55 ethnic minorities.

Chinese people coming to Canada will have many of the same questions you would if you moved to a new city or country. They will wonder how to find work, what schools their children will attend and what their new community is like. You can help your new friends settle by answering their questions. You will also find that you have much to learn from them.

Although this profile provides insights into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life. The customs described may not apply in equal measure to all newcomers from China.

  Summary Fact Sheet

Official Name People's Republic of China
Capital City Beijing
Type of Government Communist Republic
Population 1.2 billion (mainland)
Area 9,596,960 sq. km (mainland)
Major Ethnic Groups Han Chinese, minorities of Mongol, Zhuang, Manchu, Uighur, Tibetan, others
Languages Mandarin (Putonghua), Cantonese, others
Religions Officially atheist; Confucian and Taoist philosophies, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity
Unit of Currency Yuan
National Flag Entirely red. In the top hoist corner is a gold star, bordered on the right side with four smaller stars.
Date of Independence Never colonized (excepting certain regions)

  Did you know?
The most well-known and revered Canadian in China is Norman Bethune, a medical doctor who worked with the revolutionary army, training doctors and treating soldiers during the Chinese Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).