China (Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó; literally: ‘Central State’ or ‘Middle Kingdom’), officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and is the world’s most populous country, with a population of around 1.428 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third largest or the fourth largest country by area.[j] Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces,[k] five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.