China has one of the world's oldest civilizations, dating back to over 6,000 years, but the country is rapidly modernizing and gaining power on the world economic and political stage, and is now only nominally Communist. It is also the world's most populous country, with over 1.3 billion people - about 1/5 of the earth's population - and over 100 different ethnic groups, including Manchus, Mongolians, Tibetans, Uighurs, Tartars, Bais, and the Dong and Lisu tribal peoples. The contrast between the sparkling skyscraper-filled cities of Shanghai and Beijing and the far-flung villages of Yunnan and Tibet is almost unimaginable. Today's designer label-clad urban professionals bear little resemblance to their forefathers, who in all likelihood grew up in faraway villages as peasant farmers, which the majority of Chinese citizens remain today. It is a country so massive that any one trip there can show you only a slice of the country and its rich and heterogeneous cultures.