The Chinese character has more than 3,000 years of history. It is a kind of hieroglyphic which originated from carapace-bone-script in the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC). It then developed into different forms of calligraphic handwritings like large seal script, small seal script, official script, regular script, cursive script and running script.
There are altogether 80,000 Chinese words or so that originate from ancient times; however, only about 3,000 words for daily use are available to express over 99% of the information in written form because a Chinese word contains many different meanings. The character is now of two kinds – Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Simplified style are often used in mainland China, Singapore, and oversea Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, while the latter is often accepted in Taiwan Province, Hong Kong, Macau and oversea Chinese communities in North America.
Actually the Mandarin and characters used by Han people are also the common language for other minorities. Among all the 55 ethnic minorities, the people of Hui and Man nationalities also use Mandarin and its characters. 29 ethnic minorities have their own traditional languages like Tibetan, Yi, Mongol, Uygur, Kazak, Lahu, Chaoxian and Kirgiz. Some minorities, like Dai nationality and Jingpo nationality, use even more than one kind of language and characters.