China, known to its inhabitants as the Middle Kingdom, is a vast land of 3.7 million square miles, and by the beginning of the twenty-first century it had become the most populous nation in the world, with more than 1.3 billion people living in China and 57 million more outside of their homeland. U.S. census figures suggest that fewer than 5 million Chinese were living in the United States in 2010. The first American census to count Asian populations, in 1830, determined that the number of Chinese in the United States was three. Chinese have since become the largest group among Asian immigrants to the United States. Most are legal immigrants, but there are large numbers of undocumented residents. No matter how and when they came, those who remain several generations tend to behave and eat differently than do their newer immigrant compatriots.
© Oxford University Press, 2013