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China has a long and rich history that spans over thousands of years. It is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has contributed many inventions and cultural achievements to humanity. China's written language dates back to the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC), and its culture has influenced many neighboring countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam. China has been ruled by different dynasties, some of which lasted for centuries, until the Republic of China was established in 1912. The People's Republic of China is the current political entity that governs mainland China since 1949. China's ancient roots can be traced back to the Paleolithic Age, when Homo Erectus lived in the region more than a million years ago. One of the earliest human fossils found in China is the Peking Man, who lived from 300,000 to 550,000 years ago.