Asia

The People’s Republic of China, commonly known as China, is the largest country in East Asia and the third or fourth largest country in the world. With a population of over 1.3 billion, it is the most populous country in the world.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the PRC under a single-party system since the state’s establishment in 1949. The PRC is involved in a long-running dispute over the political status of Taiwan. The CPC’s rival during the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang (KMT), fled to Taiwan and surrounding islands after its civil war defeat in 1949, claiming legitimacy over China, Mongolia, and Tuva while it was the ruling power of the Republic of China (ROC). The term “Mainland China” is often used to denote the areas under PRC rule, but usually excludes its two Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macau.

Because of its vast population, rapidly growing economy, and large research and development investments, China is considered an “emerging superpower”. It has the world’s fourth largest economy (second largest in terms of purchasing power parity). China is also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Since 1978, China‘s market-based economic reforms have brought the poverty rate down from 53% in 1981 to 8% by 2001. However, China is now faced with a number of other economic problems, including an aging population, an increasing rural-urban income gap, and rapid environmental degradation.

China plays a major role in international trade. The country is the world’s largest consumer of steel and concrete, using, respectively, a third and over a half of the world’s supply of each. Counting all products, China is the third largest importer and the second largest exporter in the world.

US citizens traveling to China are required to possess a valid visa prior to entering China. Visa applications must be made at the Embassy in Washington D.C or at any of the five Consulate-Generals located throughout the US. For detailed information regarding visa requirements for travels to China, follow the link below.

Detailed information regarding China

India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 mi). It borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) to the east. India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.

Home to the Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region’s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation state in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread nonviolent resistance.

India has the world’s twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the fourth largest in purchasing power. Economic reforms have transformed it into the second fastest growing large economy; however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition. A pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.

US citizens must possess a valid US passport and valid visa prior to entering India. Visa applications may be completed in person at any of the five Indian consulates located in theUS. For detailed information regarding visa applications for India, follow the link below.

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Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is a territory located onChina‘s south coast, bordering Guangdong in the north and the South China Sea in the east, west and south. The territory is one of two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Macau.

Hong Kong was a dependent territory of the United Kingdom from 1842 until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. The Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulate that Hong Kong operate with a high degree of autonomy until 2047, fifty years after the transfer. Under the “one country, two systems” policy, the Chinese government is responsible for the territory’s defence and foreign affairs, while Hong Kong maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy, and delegates to some international organizations and events.

Beginning as a trading port, Hong Kong emerged as a leading financial centre in the late 20th century. Its highly capitalist economy is heavily based on service industries, and thrives under a long-standing policy of government non-intervention. Although the population is predominantly Chinese, residents and expatriates of other ethnicities form a small but significant segment of society. Influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures, Hong Kong’s multicultural identity is reflected in its cuisine, cinema and music.

US citizens are not required to possess a visa prior to entering Hong Kong provided the stay does not exceed 90 days. The visa exemption applies to tourist visas and business visas. For detailed information regarding visa requirements for Hong Kong, follow the link below.

Detailed information for Hong Kong

Malaysia is a country that consists of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia with a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers (127,355 sq mi). The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population stands at over 25 million. The country is separated into two regions Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate.Malaysia is headed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and politically led by a Prime Minister. The government is closely modeled after the Westminster parliamentary system.

Malaysia as a unified state did not exist until 1963. Previously, a set of colonies were established by the United Kingdom from the late-18th century, and the western half of modern Malaysia was composed of several separate kingdoms. This group of colonies was known as British Malaya until its dissolution in 1946, when it was reorganized as the Federation of Malaya and later recognized as an independent nation in 1957. Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo and the Federation of Malaya joined to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The early years of the new union were marred by an armed conflict with Indonesia and the expulsion of Singapore. The Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late-20th century. With a GDP per capita standing at USD14,400, it has, from time to time, been considered a newly industrialized country. As one of three countries that control the Strait of Malacca, international trade plays a large role in its economy. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country’s economy.

The Malays form the majority of the population. Some Malays are of Arab descent and there are sizable Chinese and Indian communities. Islam is the largest as well as the official religion of the federation. The Malay language is the official language. Malay was originally written in Jawi, based on Arabic script, but nowadays, the Roman alphabet (Rumi) is more often used.

Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and participates in many international organizations such as the United Nations. As a former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is also a member of the Developing 8 Countries.

US citizens are not required to possess a visa to enter Malaysia provided the purpose of the visit is for academic, business or social purposes. A visa is required for US citizens seeking employment in Malaysia. For detailed information regarding visa requirements and immigration information, follow the link below.

Detailed information for Malaysia

The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country located in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, sharing maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam. The Philippines is the world’s 12th most populous country with a population approaching 90 million people. Its national economy is the 37th largest in the world with a 2006 gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$117.562 billion. There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, the largest diaspora network in the world, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. Ecologically,Philippines is considered to be among 17 of the most mega diverse countries in the world.

The Philippines was settled mostly by Malay people. The Philippines became a Spanish colony in the 16th century and an American territory at the beginning of the 20th century. The Katipunan led the Philippine Revolution of 1896 that won independence from Spain. The U.S. occupation of the Philippines during the Spanish-American War led to the outbreak of the Philippine-American War. The Philippines gained its independence from the United States on July 4, 1946 after the Pacific War (the Second World War) via the Treaty of Manila. Martial law was declared in 1972 by Ferdinand Marcos. The assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. led to the People Power Revolution of 1986 that overthrew authoritarian rule. Political upheavals and corruption scandals alternated with the peaceful transition of power during the period that followed the restoration of democracy.

Modern Philippines has many affinities with the Western world, derived mainly from the cultures of Spain, Latin America, and the United States. Roman Catholicism is the country’s predominant religion, although pre-Hispanic indigenous religious practices still exist; there are also followers of Islam. Spanish was an official language of the Philippines until 1973. Since then, the two official languages are Filipino and English.

US citizens traveling to the Philippines for business or tourism are not required to possess a visa for stays not exceeding 21 days. However, an Immigration Officer may exercise their discretion and admit travelers a maximum of 60 days beyond the intended period of stay. For detailed information regarding visa requirements for the Philippines, follow the link below.

Detailed information for the Philippines

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island country located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It lies 137 kilometers (85 mi) north of the equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia’s Riau Islands. At 707.1 km² (272 sq mi),Singapore is one of three remaining true city-states in the world. It is the smallest nation in Southeast Asia.

Prior to European settlement, the island now known as Singapore was the site of a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived along the nearby coast, rivers and on smaller islands. In 1819 the British East India Company established a trading post on the island, which was used thereafter as a strategic trading post along the spice route. Singapore would become one of the most important commercial and military centers of the British Empire, and the hub of British power in Southeast Asia. The city was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, which Winston Churchill called “Britain‘s greatest defeat”. Singapore reverted to British rule immediately postwar, in 1945. Eighteen years later the city, having achieved independence from Britain, merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. However, less than two years later it seceded from the federation and became an independent republic on 9 August 1965.Singapore joined the United Nations on September 21 that same year.

Since independence, Singapore ‘s standard of living has been on the rise. Foreign direct investment and a state-led drive to industrialization based on plans drawn up by the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius have created a modern economy focused on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside traditional trade.Singapore is the 6th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has foreign exchange reserves of US$171.7353 billion.

The population of Singapore is approximately 4.59 million. Though Singapore is highly cosmopolitan and diverse, ethnic Chinese form the majority of the population. English is the administrative language of the country.

The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore established the nation’s political system as a representative democracy, while the country is recognized as a parliamentary republic. The People’s Action Party (PAP) dominates the political process and has won control of Parliament in every election since self-government in 1959.

Detailed information for Singapore