China, the world's most populous country, reached a total population of 1.38 billion (including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) in 2016, indicating a 0.58 percent increase compared to the previous year.
After social unrest and famine in the 1950’s, the Chinese population developed rapidly over the following decades. To counteract this explosion in population, the one-child policy was introduced in China in 1979. Although the policy was effective in slowing down population growth, it was controversially discussed because of multiple negative side effects. One of those negative effects, the shift in demographics towards an older demographic eventually caused the government to revise the policy. On October 29, 2015, the existing law was changed to a two-child policy, and became effective on January 1, 2016. As a result, the absolute number of births in China amounted to 17.86 million in 2016, grew by 1.31 million births compared to the previous year. In contrast, the mortality rate in China dropped slightly in 2015, reaching a ratio of about seven deaths per thousand inhabitants.
The gender distribution in China’s population has traditionally been lopsided towards the male gender. Still, the total population gender ratio dropped significantly from 107.56 males per 100 females in 1953 to about 105 males per 100 females in 2015.
During the last decade, the Chinese population gradually migrated from predominantly rural to more urban areas. Urbanization in China gained momentum following the initiation of the reform and opening policy. By the end of 2015, a share of 55.6 percent of the Chinese population resided in cities and towns, a dramatic increase from 42.5 percent in 2005. In 2015, around 771 million people were living in urban areas of China while 603 million people lived in rural areas of China.
The majority of Chinese people live in the eastern provinces and municipalities of the country. The regions form a broad arc reaching from the northern city of Harbin through Beijing, Shanghai and all the way down to Guangdong . Guangdong is the province with the most inhabitants in China with a population of approximately 108.5 million people by the end of 2015, followed by Shandong, Henan and Sichuan province with around 98.5, 95 and 82 million inhabitants respectively. The autonomous region Tibet was the least inhabited region in China with only three million inhabitants.
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