The Geography of China
China¡¦s geographical location and natural environment have had a significant impact upon the shaping of its civilization.
China is situated in the southeast of the Eurasian Continent, bounded in the west by Central Asia, West Asia and South Asia, and in the east by the Pacific Ocean. Along the coast stretches a vast plain, and in the west lie mountains, plateaus and basins, with rolling mountain ranges from the west to the east. The major ranges are the Altai Mountains, the Tianshan Mountains , the Kunlun Mountains, the Karakoram Mountains , the Gangdise Mountains and the Himalayan Mountains . The Himalayan mountain range, in the southernmost part of the country, is the highest in the world and includes the world¡¦s highest peak, Mount Qomolangma.
Known as the ¡§Roof of the World,¡¨ the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau , the world¡¦s largest plateau, is situated in the southwest of China, covering an area of 2.5 million square kilometers. Its northern fringe is bordered by the Kunlun Mountains and the Qilian Mountains and its southern fringe by the Himalayan Mountains. To the northwest of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau lies the famous Pamirs Plateau , which stretches through China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It, too, is bordered by mountain ranges, including, China¡¦s Kunlun and Karakoram Mountains and the mountains of Afghanistan¡¦s Hindu Kush.
The forms of transport available in ancient China meant it was almost impossible for people to cross these formidable mountain ranges. As a consequence of this geographical barrier, there was little contact between the East and the West and limited cultural exchange.
In the north of China are the Yinshan Mountains . Further north lies Mongolia¡¦s Gobi Desert and the northeast is bordered by the Greater Khingan Mountains , the Lesser Khingan Mountains and the Changbai Mountains. In the east and the southeast zigzags along coastline, a vast sea area extending to the Pacific, the world¡¦s largest ocean. Geographically, China¡¦s mainland is guarded by mountains and seas. In this vast and seemingly impregnable country, rich in natural resources our ancestors lived for generations, developing a history and civilization unique to China.
China¡¦s terrain slopes from the west to the east, with most rivers running in the same direction. Its two most famous rivers are the Yellow River and the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). The Yellow River Valley and the Yangtze River Valley were historically the most economically developed areas throughout Chinese history, and the Yellow River Valley in particular occupied a very important political status in ancient China. Many dynasties established their capitals in this area, for example, Zhenxun in the Xia Dynasty, Yinxu in the Shang Dynasty, Gaojing in the West Zhou Dynasty, Luoyi in the East Zhou Dynasty, Xianyang in the Qin Dynasty, Chang¡¦an in the West Han Dynasty, Luoyang in the East Han, Wei and Jin dynasties, Chang¡¦an and Luoyang in the Sui and Tang dynasties, and Bianliang in the Song Dynasty. Throughout China¡¦s history, the Yellow River Valley was the political center for many dynasties.