Mandarin Chinese is the standardised variety of Chinese. With more than 1 billion speakers worldwide, it has more native speakers than any other language. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China and Taiwan but there are also extensive Chinese speaking communities around the world, including other parts of Asia, North and South America, Europe and Australia. Mandarin Chinese is written with characters which represent both sounds and meanings. Although mainland China uses simplified characters that were reformed in the 1950s, Hong Kong and overseas communities, like Taiwan, have kept what are called traditional characters.