China is one of the four oldest civilisations in the world, with a written history stretching back 4000 years. Dating from around 200 years BC, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army are just 2 examples of ancient constructions that testify to the rich culture of the Chinese nation. China is the 3rd largest country on earth and has one fifth of the world's population (1.2 billion). It extends for over 5000 kilometres from the high and wild Xinjiang Province in the west to Heilongjiang Province in the east. There are mountainous regions in Tibet and in Yunnan, rolling plateaus, extensive deserts like the Taklamakan, as well as fertile lowlands and prosperous coastal regions. Much of China is unknown as a destination for adventure travel, although the country is more open now than it has ever been. Developments like the recent building of the rail link to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa point to the opportunities that the future will undoubtedly hold.