With a name, 中国, that literally means “Middle Kingdom”, China is the superpower of the eastern hemisphere. The political hegemony spread over its populace today belies a rich history that goes back thousands of years and involves hundreds of ethnic groups, sects, and dynasties vying for control over a gradually expanding land.

Even today, China is more culturally diverse than its crowded first-tier cities (or misbehaving tourists) will have you believe. While Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world thanks to China, locals can easily place their fellow countrymen’s origins based on dialects and mannerisms. And there are still plenty of true hidden gems to be found.

It can be tough to get around China if you don’t speak the language, but I do, so these posts may be more useful than you think!