China (Traditional Chinese: ??, Simplified Chinese: ??, Hanyu Pinyin: Zhongguó, Wade-Giles: Chung-kuo) is an ancient cultural and geographic entity in continental East Asia with some offshore islands which since 1949 has been divided between the People's Republic of China (governing Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau) and the Republic of China (governing Taiwan and several outlying islands of Fujian Province).
The term "China" can narrowly mean China proper, or, more usually and inclusively, China proper and Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang (see map in Political divisions of China). In many contexts, "China" is commonly used to refer to the People's Republic of China or mainland China, while "Taiwan" is used to refer to the Republic of China. Sometimes informally, especially in the English and Chinese business world, "the Greater China region" (?????) refers to China as defined broadly in the introduction.
The historical capitals of China were mostly in the east. The four most commonly designated capitals are Nanjing, Beijing, Xi'an, and Luoyang. Official languages once included Chinese, Mongol, and Manchu.
The English word China and prefix Sino- probably came from "Qin" (pronounced halfway between "Chin" and "Tsin"). Others believe that China may have been derived from the Chinese word for Tea (Cha) or Silk. In any circumstance, the word China passed through many languages along the Silk Road before it finally reached Europe. (See also: China in world languages)