Inside China

China is the world's most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people. They live in 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities directly under the central government and two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macao. We wonder: How many provinces in China have a population of more than 100 million?

A. Zero
B. Three
C. Seven

A. Zero is correct.

There is currently no province in China whose population exceeds 100 million people. However, there are three Chinese provinces, Guangdong, Shandong and Henan, that come very close to the 100 million benchmark, having populations, respectively, of 98 million, 94 million and 93 million people, as of 2010.

If Guangdong, situated in southeastern China, were a country, it would rank as the 12th largest globally. Guangdong's capital, Guangzhou, is China's fifth most populous city, with roughly nine million people (as of 2009).

China thus has something in common with the European Union, a bloc of 27 member states, none of whose population exceeds 100 million. The closest an EU country comes is Germany, with a population of 82 million. Meanwhile, the most populous of the 50 U.S. states is California, with about 37 million people.

B. Three is not correct.

While India's total population, at 1.2 billion, is smaller than China's, India has three states with a population of more than 100 million: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar.

India's most populous state is Uttar Pradesh which, with 200 million people, is slightly larger than Brazil, the world's fifth most populous country. With 112 million people, India's second most populous state, Maharashtra, has a population equal to that of Mexico, the world's 11th largest country.

Bihar, the third most populous Indian state, has more people than the Philippines. Long one of India's poorer states, it had a reputation for being plagued by corruption and violence. However, it has witnessed a remarkable turnaround in recent years due largely to strong economic growth.

C. Seven is not correct.

There are seven Indian states whose population ranges between 50 million and 100 million: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The population of each of these states exceeds those of major economies such as South Korea, Spain and Argentina.

Since gaining independence from Britain back in 1947, India's population has more than tripled. The country's population growth in recent years is due to numerous factors, including a high fertility rate and a decline in mortality rates. As a result, India today is a much younger nation than China, having a median age of 25 years, compared to China's 34 years.

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