The People's Republic of China, as we know it today, is the product of an ancient civilization abounding with a rich cultural and multinational identity. The nation spans across East Asia and is today divided into the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China or Taiwan. A reference to 'China', is commonly understood to be to the former.
The physical characteristics of China highlight a cultural sphere that is as diverse in religion and customs and traditions, as it is in terrain. The nation provides proof of habitation that dates back to approximately 300,000 years ago.
Geographical Features of China
China is the largest country in East Asia. It is also the most populous, with a human count of over 1.3 billion. All of its twenty-two provinces, four municipalities, and five autonomous regions are included within two Special Administrative Regions.
Along with its capital, Beijing, all of its 9.6 million square kilometers makes China the world's second largest nation by land area. The physical features highlight:
- Forest steppes
- Deserts (Gobi and Taklamakan)
- Dry regions
- Subtropical forests
- Rugged, high altitudes
- Extensive mountain ranges
These features not only form the natural borders, but also contribute to distinct customs, preferences and traditional diversity. China is bordered by India and Central Asia. Its eastern seaboard is 14,500 km and low lying.
The coastline stretches across the boundaries of the South and East China Sea that separates the nation from Japan and Korea. The ancient Chinese civilization flourished along the fertile Yellow River basin. This has been home to its political system and hereditary monarchies.
The physical characteristics mainly comprise plateaus and mountains that are lower in the east. The country is enriched by the waters of the Yangtze, Huang He, Amur, Pearl, Mekong, and the Brahmaputra. The alluvial plains along the shores of the East China and Yellow Sea are densely populated.
There are grasslands along the borders of the Inner Mongolian plateau that lies to the north and hilly and mountain ranges towards the south. The deltas of the Huang He and Yangtze River dominate the terrain of East-Central China.
China largely depends on an agrarian culture and most of the arable lands lie along the rivers. The great alluvial plain in the north and the calcareous tableland in the south provide it with a distinct geographical identity. It cradles Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
To the northwest of China lie high plateaus and desert landscapes. This region is home to the Taklamakan and Gobi Desert. The southwestern border comprises high mountains and the deep Yunnan valleys that form the country's natural borders with Vietnam, Burma, and Laos.
Its Paleozoic formations are mostly marine, except those in the upper carboniferous system, while the Mesozoic and Tertiary deposits are more freshwater and estuarine in nature. The Great Plain that lies to the north is characteristic of volcanic cones.
The basalt plateaus are the main features of the Liaodong and Shandong Peninsulas. The climatic conditions of the country vary greatly. While the day time temperatures in summer, in the northern zone reaches above 30 degrees Celsius with Arctic-like winters, the central zone enjoys a more temperate and continental climate.
In southern China, the climate is subtropical in nature, with very warm summers and mild winters. Springtime witnesses a number of dust storms that are the result of prolonged drought and very primitive agricultural practices.
Research reveals that these storms carry dust from the mainland to as far as the west coast of the United States! The country is now facing environmental issues such as water scarcity and soil erosion, as well as high pollution levels.