China has a population of 1.3 billion people, and the timeline below shows the major events happened in China’s long and mysterious history (which is almost 5,000 years). It is recorded that the oldest dynasty is Shang Dynasty, and between the changing of the dynasties, some of the dates do not overlap because ruling periods do not transfer immediately. In history, there are a lot of people that have contributed to the development of the entire country and to the enrichment of Chinese culture and history. Some of the significant figures include Mao Zedong (leader of China) and Confucius (teacher and philosopher).
1570 to 1045 BC
The Shang Dynasty is the first clearly recorded dynasty. It is one of the several dynasties that rules the country. During the Shang Dynasty, the Chinese develop a writing system.
1045 to 256 BC
771 BC marks the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty and the beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.
During Eastern Zhou (771 to 256 BC)
- The Spring and Autumn period begins (771 to 481 BC).
- 511 BC is when Confucius, the philosopher and teacher is born.
- 481 BC marks the end of the Spring and Autumn period.
- 475-221 BC is the Warring States period. During this period, leaders of different regions are consistently fighting for control.
221 to 207 BC
Qin Shi Wangdi unifies China and becomes the first emperor. The construction of the Great Wall of China also begins in the Qin Dynasty, and the purpose of it is to prevent invasion of the Mongols. Also, the writing system of China becomes standardized by the government.
207 BC to 220 AD
207 BC is when Gaozu, the emperor in Han Dynasty establishes the Chinese Civil Service to help run the government. Also, Confucianism is officially established as basis for Chinese state by Han Wudi. The Xin Dynasty overthrows the Han Dynasty for a short period of time. 105 AD is when paper is invented by Cai Lun, an imperial court official.
222 to 581 CE
Buddhism is introduced to China during the Six Dynasties Period.
- Three Kingdoms (220 to 265 CE)
- Jin Dynasty (265 to 420 CE)
- Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386 to 589 CE)
589 to 618 CE
The Grand Canal is completed in Sui Dynasty.
618 to 906 CE
Wood block printing is first used in China during Tang Dynasty.
907 to 960 CE
This is the time period for the Five Dynasties.
This is the period of Song Dynasties. Gunpowder and the compass are invented (960 to 1279).
- Northern Song (960-1127)
- Southern Song (1127-1279)
1279 to 1368
Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty, the reign of the Mongol empire.
1368 to 1644
During the Ming dynasty, painting, calligraphy, and other arts flourish. The Chinese begin construction on the Forbidden City in Beijing, and Beijing becomes the new capital of the Chinese Empire replacing Nanjing.
1644 to 1912
This the the period of the Qing Dynasty. From 1839 to 1860, the Opium Wars occurs, and China and Western nations fight over trade issues.
1931 to 1945
Japan invades the province of Manchuria. After Japan is defeated in World War II, civil war breaks out in China.
China becomes a Communist nation after 20 years of civil war, and the rivals in the National Party moves to Taiwan, an island off China’s east coast. Mao Zedong becomes the leader of the Communist Party and established the People’s Republic of China.
Leader Mao Zedong begins Cultural Revolution in China, and it is a 10-year campaign that changes China’s economy and politics.
The U.S. President Richard M. Nixon visits China, and he is the first U.S. president to visit China. The purpose of the meeting is to improve the relationship between the two countries.
China regains control of Hong Kong, which was under British rule for 99 years.
China launches its first spacecraft with people in it.
The Three Gorges River Dam across the Yangtze is completed. It took 13 years to build.
Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics.
China officially surpasses Japan to become the world’s second largest economic country.