What Did the Chinese Call Their Country in Ancient Times?

China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a rich history that dates back to thousands of years. The country has undergone significant changes over the centuries, from its political structure to its language and culture. One of the most interesting things about ancient China is how the country was referred to by its people.

What Did the Chinese Call Their Country in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, China was known by several names. The most commonly used name during this period was “Zhongguo,” which translates to “Middle Kingdom.” This name reflected the ancient Chinese belief that their empire was located at the center of the world.

Another name for China during this period was “Huaxia,” which referred to the ethnic group that dominated China’s central plains. This term is still used today to refer to Han Chinese people who make up over 90% of China’s population.

The ancient Chinese also referred to their country as “Shenzhou,” which means “Divine Land.” This name reflected their belief that their land was blessed by divine powers and that they had a special relationship with heaven.

During the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC), China was referred to as “Da Qin,” which means “Great Qin.” This name reflected the power and prestige of this dynasty, which had successfully united several warring states into a single empire.

In addition to these names, China had several other titles depending on its political structure or who was ruling at any given time. For example, during the Tang dynasty (618-907), China was known as “Tang Guo,” while during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), it was called “Da Yuan.”


In conclusion, ancient China had several names that it used to refer to itself. These names reflected various aspects of Chinese culture and beliefs, including their position in the world, ethnic identity, religious beliefs, and political power. Even today, some of these names are still used to refer to China, highlighting the country’s deep history and cultural heritage.

  • Zhongguo – Middle Kingdom
  • Huaxia – Ethnic group that dominated China’s central plains
  • Shenzhou – Divine Land
  • Da Qin – Great Qin
  • Tang Guo – Tang Dynasty
  • Da Yuan – Yuan Dynasty


“China” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed on October 4, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/place/China

“Ancient China” History.com Editors.history.com/topics/ancient-china