The history of Chinese Civilisation spans some five thousand years, its beginnings semi-legend semi-fact. China was developing an organised town-dwelling society at the same time that the same process was taking place in India, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Unlike the other three civilisations however, Ancient China was a self-contained world, hidden behind the barriers of the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas. This led to it developing a unique culture all its own.
Unaware of the existence of other civilised states beyond the deserts and mountains, the Chinese people named their country the Middle Kingdom. They saw themselves as the centre of the world surrounded by barbarians and uninhabited lands. This view persisted through the centuries, creating a spirit of self-reliance, which might explain how the Chinese Civilisation was able to continue uninterrupted, when Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and so many later others, faltered and were supplanted.
The principle Dynasties and Periods in Chinese history are given below:
For more detailed description of key events and personages of each Dynasty, please read the Chinese History Special, found in the Publication section of this website.
- Xia 2200-1700 BC
- Shang 1700-1100 BC
- Zhou 1100-221 BC
- Qin 221-207 BC
- Han 206 BC-220 AD
- Period of Disunion 220-589 AD
- Sui 589-618 AD
- Tang 618-907 AD
- Five Dynasties Period 907-960 AD
- Song 960-1279 AD
- Yuan 1279-1368 AD
- Ming 1368-1644 AD
- Qing 1644-1911 AD
- Republic of China 1911-1949 AD
- People's Republic of China 1949-