Important features of China's geography

China is a vast country bordered by mountain ranges, deserts and seas. The varied natural topography includes plains, plateaus, foothills, mountains, river valleys, deserts and coastlands. The climate of China also varies greatly: most of the country is in the temperate zone, but it ranges from subartic in the north, to tropical in the south, and arid desert in the west. Beginning with a core area, the territory of China expanded greatly over the course of its long history, eventually reaching the Himalayan Mountains to the West and the Gobi Desert to the North. How did key features of Chinese geography influence the growth of Chinese civilization? Can you find China on a map? Check out this study set with flashcards and try the quiz.

 Gao Kegong [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gao Kegong [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mountains

Mountains are a key feature of China's geography, and are often shown in Chinese paintings. Roughly 1/3 of China's land today is mountainous, with Western China especially mountainous. Some mountains, like Mount Tai are considered sacred, and are now listed as World Heritage sites. Mount Song is the central sacred mountain of China and the birthplace of the famous "Shaolin Temple Kung-fu." The Qin Mountain range runs from east to west and is a natural boundary dividing North and South China, which have different topography and climate. The Himalayan mountain range, which stretches for about 1,500 miles and includes the world's highest mountain peak - Mt. Everest - is located on the western border of the People's Republic of China, separating the Tibetan Plateau from the Indian subcontinent. Can you find this range on a map?

 Ma Yuan (painter) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ma Yuan (painter) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rivers

China's 2 most important rivers are the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. The Yellow River is called "yellow" because of the yellow-brown silt it carries. The Yangtze River is also known as "Chang Jiang," or "long river," and is the longest river in Asia. Along the Yellow River, the North China Plain is considered the "cradle" of Chinese civilization. Fertile soil in the Yellow River basin promoted farming, and the establishment of ancient settlementsMillet was the earliest crop grown in this northern region. Rice farming was first developed in the southern region around the Yangtze River, where the climate was warmer and wetter. Later in Chinese history, the Yangtze River Delta (Including Shanghai) became China's main economic center. Can you find these two rivers on a map? How do you explain the different foods (millet, wheat, and rice) eaten in North and South China?

 CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=344629   

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=344629

 

desert

The Gobi Desert is the largest desert in Asia. It covers an area of approximately 500,000 sq. miles and has the world's highest sand dunes. The desert was formed because the Himalayan mountain range blocks rain-producing clouds from the Indian Ocean. The ancient Silk Road, a vital trade route connecting China with the Mediterranean, ran through the Gobi region. The Silk Road was a route for the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures. The great Mogao Caves, a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist art and manuscripts (now a World Heritage site), are located on this route on the edge of the Gobi desert. Can you find this desert on a map?