China has substantial mineral reserves and is the world’s largest producer of antimony, natural graphite,
tungsten, and zinc. Other major minerals are bauxite, coal, crude petroleum, diamonds, gold, iron ore, lead,
magnetite, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, phosphate rock, tin, uranium, and vanadium. With
its vast mountain ranges, China’s hydropower potential is the largest in the world.
Based on 2005 estimates, 14.86% (about 1.4 million sq km) of China’s total land area is arable. About 1.3%
(some 116,580 sq km) is planted to permanent crops and the rest planted to temporary crops. With
comparatively little land planted to permanent crops, intensive agricultural techniques are used to reap harvests
that are sufficient to feed the world’s largest population and still have surplus for export. An estimated 544,784
km² of land were irrigated in 2004. 42.9% of total land area was used as pasture, and 17.5% was forest.
China's water resources include 2,711.5 billion cubic meters of runoff in its rivers and 828.8 billion cubic
meters which was pumped annually from shallow aquifers circa 2000. As pumping water draws water from
nearby rivers, the total available resource is 2,821.4 billion cubic meters. 80.9% of these resources are in the
Yangtze River basin. In 1993, 498,720 square kilometers were irrigated.
Main article: Environment of China
The scale of China's environmental problems is large. To begin with, China's 1.3 billion human population
account for around a fifth of the world's population, but the nation encompasses less than one tenth of the
world's arable land. Furthermore, almost the entire population lives in the well-watered eastern half of the
country, where virtually every centimetre of farmland has been developed. Indeed, China has very little land that
has not been altered in some way by man. The sheer size of the population means that forests, and wetlands,
grasslands and agricultural fields are stretched beyond the limits of sustainable use. Dramatic growth in the
economy and the continuing need to raise living standards for some of Asia's poorest people means that urban
areas face a similar crisis: coal dust, untreated factory emissions, vehicle exhaust and wind-blown desert sand
make Chinese cities some of the most polluted on Earth; many of the nation's rivers are polluted and virtually all
water in urban areas is heavily contaminated.
Air pollution (sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal is a major issue, along with water pollution from
untreated wastes and use of debated standards of pollutant concentration rather than Total Maximum Daily
Load. There are water shortages, particularly in the north. The eastern part of China often experiences smoke
and dense fog in the atmosphere as a result of industrial pollution. Heavy deforestation with an estimated loss
of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development is occurring with resulting
desertification. The size of the Gobi desert has increased and now reaches the outskirts of Beijing.[citation
China is a party to the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, the Antarctic Treaty, the Convention on Biological
Diversity, the Climate Change treaty, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Endangered
Species treaty, the Hazardous Wastes treaty, the Law of the Sea, the International Tropical Timber Agreements
of 1983 and 1994, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and agreements on Marine
Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands protection. China has signed, but not ratified
the Kyoto Protocol (but is not yet required to reduce its carbon emission under the agreement, as is India), and
the Nuclear Test Ban treaty.
The world's third (or fourth) largest country, China rises from sea level in the east to peak of Mount Everest on
the border with Nepal. The south shares tropical rainforests with Laos, Vietnam and Burma, while the Da
Hinggan Mountains in Inner Mongolia have tundra vegetation on top of permafrost. China is also home to East
Asia's most important wetlands and Asia's longest river (Yangtze), and is the source of two rivers of inestimable
importance to hundreds of millions of people in South and Southeast Asia - the Ganges and the Mekong.
Deserts make up one-fifth of China's total territory, largely in the northwest. Arid steppes cover additional areas
in the Altai, Tian, and Kunlun Mountains in the far west, a region blocked from the southwestern monsoon by
the Tibetan plateau and from the southeastern monsoon by its distance from the sea. This massive diversity of
geography and habitats has resulted in an extraordinary range of plant and animal life.
China contains a variety of forest types. Both northeast and northwest reaches contain mountains and cold
coniferous forests, supporting animal species which include moose and Asiatic black bear, along with some
120 types of birds. Moist conifer forests can have thickets of bamboo as an understorey, replaced by
rhododendrons in higher montane stands of juniper and yew. Subtropical forests, which dominate central and
southern China, support an astounding 146,000 species of flora, as well as the famous giant panda, golden
monkey and South China tiger. Tropical rainforest and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and
Hainan Island, actually contain a quarter of all the plant and animal species found in China.
The Geography of ChinaFrom the Tibetan Plateau and other less-elevated highlands rise rugged east-west trending mountains, and plateaus interrupted by deep depressions fanning out to the north
and east. The Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in the People's Republic of China and Ladakh in Kashmir. With an
average elevation of over 4,500 meters, the highest and biggest plateau in the world and an area of 2.5 million square kilometers. A continental scarp marks the eastern margin of this territory, a
scarp that extends from the Greater Khingan Range in northeastern China, through the Taihang Mountains (a range of mountains overlooking the North China Plain) to the eastern edge of the
Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in the south. All of the low-lying areas of China, which support dense population and intensive cultivation, are to the east of this scarp line.
The east-west ranges include some of Asia's greatest mountains. In addition to the Himalayas and the Kunlun Mountains, there are the Kailash (Gangdise) and the Tian Shan ranges. The latter
stands between two great basins, the massive Tarim Basin to the south and the Dzungarian Basin to the north. Rich deposits of coal, oil, and metallic ores lie in the Tian Shan area. The largest inland
basin in China, the Tarim Basin measures 1,500 kilometres from east to west and 600 kilometres from north to south at its widest parts. The Himalayas form a natural boundary on the southwest as
the Altai Mountains do on the northwest. Lesser ranges branch out, some at sharp angles from the major ranges. The mountains give rise to all the principal rivers. The spine of the Kunlun Mountains
separates into several branches as it runs eastward from the Pamir Mountains. The northernmost branches, the Altyn-Tagh and the Qilian Range, form the rim of the Tibetan Plateau in west-central
China and overlook the Qaidam Basin, a sandy and swampy region containing many salt lakes. A southern branch of the Kunlun Mountains divides the watersheds of the Yellow River (Huang He) and
the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). The Gansu Corridor, west of the great bend in the Yellow River, was traditionally an important communications link with Central Asia.
North of the 3,300-kilometre-long Great Wall, between Gansu Province on the west and the Greater Khingan Range on the east, lies the Mongolian Plateau, at an average elevation of 1,000 metres
above sea level. The Yin Mountains, a system of mountains with average elevations of 1,400 metres, extends east-west through the center of this vast desert steppe. To the south is the largest loess
plateau in the world, covering 600,000 square kilometers in Shaanxi Province, parts of Gansu and Shanxi provinces, and some of Ningxia-Hui Autonomous Region. Loess is a yellowish soil blown in
from the Inner Mongolian deserts. The loose, loamy material travels easily in the wind, and through the centuries it has veneered the plateau and choked the Yellow River with silt. Because the river
level drops precipitously toward the North China Plain where it sluggishly crosses the delta, it carries a heavy load of sediment in the form of sand and mud from the upper reaches, much of which is
deposited on the flat plain. The flow is controlled mainly by constantly repaired man-made embankments while floods and course changes have recurred over the centuries. As a result the river flows
on a raised ridge fifty metres or more above the plain, Traditionally, rulers were judged by their concern for or indifference to preservation of the embankments.
Flowing from its source in the Tibetan highlands, the Yellow River courses toward the sea through the North China Plain, the historic centre of Chinese expansion and influence. Ethnic Chinese people
have farmed the rich alluvial soils of the plain since ancient times, constructing the Grand Canal of China for north-south transport. The plain itself is actually a continuation of the Manchurian Plain to
the northeast but is separated from it by the Bohai Gulf, an extension of the Yellow Sea. Like other densely populated areas of China, the plain is subject not only to floods but to earthquakes. For
example, the mining and industrial centre of Tangshan, about 165 kilometres east of Beijing, was levelled by an earthquake in July 1976 that reportedly also killed 242,000 people and injured 164,000.
The Qinling mountain range, a continuation of the Kunlun Mountains, divides the North China Plain from the Yangtze River Delta and is the major physiographic boundary between the two great parts of
China Proper. It is in a sense a cultural boundary as well, influencing the distribution of custom and language. South of the Qinling divide are the densely populated and highly developed areas of the
lower and middle plains of the Yangtze and, on its upper reaches, the Sichuan Basin, an area encircled by a high barrier of mountain ranges. The country's longest and most important waterway, the
Yangtze River is navigable over much of its length and is now the site of the Three Gorges Dam. Rising on the Tibetan Plateau, the Yangtze River traverses 6,300 kilometers through the heart of the
country, draining an area of 1.8 million square kilometers before emptying into the East China Sea. The Sichuan Basin, favoured by a mild, humid climate and a long growing season, produces a rich
variety of crops; it is also a leading silk-producing area and an important industrial region with substantial mineral resources.
Second only to the Qinling as an internal boundary is the Nanling, the southernmost of the east-west mountain ranges. The Nanling overlooks the part of China where a tropical climate permits two
crops of rice to be grown each year. Southeast of the mountains lies a coastal, hilly region of small deltas and narrow valley plains; the drainage area of the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) and its associated
network of rivers occupies much of the region to the south. West of the Nanling, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau rises in two steps, averaging 1,200 and 1,800 metres in elevation, respectively, toward the
precipitous mountain regions of the eastern Tibetan Plateau.
The Hai River, like the Pearl and other major waterways, flows from west to east. Its upper course consists of five rivers that converge near Tianjin, then flow seventy kilometers before emptying into the
Bohai Gulf. Another major river, the Huai, rises in Henan Province and flows through several lakes before joining the Yangtze near Yangzhou. Inland drainage involving a number of upland basins in the
north and northeast accounts for about 40 percent of the country's total drainage area. Many rivers and streams flow into lakes or diminish in the desert. Some are useful for irrigation.
China's extensive territorial waters are principally marginal seas of the western Pacific Ocean; these waters wash the shores of a long and much-indented coastline and approximately 5,000 islands.
The Yellow, East China, and South China seas, too, are marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean. More than half the coastline (predominantly in the south) is rocky; most of the remainder is sandy.
Hangzhou Bay roughly divides the two kinds of shoreline.
Areas of China have experienced earthquakes. On 23 August, 1976, a major earthquake in Tangshan killed hundreds of thousands of people. However, most regions of China do not experience
earthquakes, as major population centres are a long distance from fault lines. Tangshan is one of the few places in China that is located within an earthquake zone. There are few volcanoes in China.
|One China One 1中1 1中1: Greater China 大中國 大中国: Past, Present, Future 過往 今日 明天 过往 今日 明天: 001
For the modern political entities, see Geography of the People's Republic of China and Geography of Taiwan.
NASA composite satellite photoThe geography of China stretches some 5,026 kilometers across the East Asian
landmass bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea
and Vietnam in a changing configuration of broad plains, expansive deserts, and lofty mountain ranges, including
vast areas of inhospitable terrain. The eastern half of the country, its seacoast fringed with offshore islands, is a
region of fertile lowlands, foothills and mountains, deserts, steppes, and subtropical areas. The western half of
China is a region of sunken basins, rolling plateaus, and towering massifs, including a portion of the highest
tableland on earth.
The vastness of the country and the barrenness of the western hinterland have important implications for defense strategy. In spite of many good harbors along the
approximately 18,000-kilometer coastline, the nation has traditionally oriented itself not toward the sea but inland, developing as an imperial power whose center lay in the
middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River on the northern plains. China also has the Tibetan Plateau to the south. The Tibetan Plateau is a very large plateau with high
altitudes. To the north of the Tibet Plateau lies the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts, which stretch from the extreme northwest eastward through Mongolia.
China is one of the world's largest countries in total area, almost the exact same size as the United States yet smaller than both Russia and Canada. Whether China or the
United States is the third largest country in the world in total area is related to (a) the validity of claims by the PRC on territories such as Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram
Tract (both territories also claimed by India), and (b) how the total size of the United States is calculated: The CIA's The World Factbook gives 9,826,630 km², the United
Nations Statistics Division gives 9,629,091 km², and the Encyclopedia Britannica gives 9,522,055 km². Figures for the size of China differ slightly depending on where
one draws a number of ill-defined boundaries. The official figure by the People's Republic of China is 9.6 million square kilometers. The Republic of China based in Taiwan
puts this figure at 11 million square kilometers, but this includes Mongolia, an independent sovereign state. China's contour is reasonably comparable to that of the United
States and lies largely at the same latitudes. The total area is estimated to be 9,596,960 km², with land accounting for 9,326,410 km² and water for 270,550 km² (around 3
China has a total of 22,117 km of land boundaries with
14 other nations: Afghanistan (76 km), Bhutan (470 km),
Burma (2,185 km), India (3,380 km), Kazakhstan (1,533
km), North Korea (1,416 km), Kyrgyzstan (858 km), Laos
(423 km), Mongolia (4,677 km), Nepal (1,236 km),
Pakistan (523 km), Russia (northeast 3,605 km,
northwest 40 km), Tajikistan (414 km), and Vietnam
China’s coastline extends 14,500 km from the border
with North Korea in the north to Vietnam in the south.
China’s coasts are on the East China Sea, Korea Bay,
Yellow Sea, and South China Sea.
China claims a 12 nautical mile (22 km) territorial sea, a
24 nautical mile (44 km) contiguous zone, a 200
nautical mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone, and a
200 nautical mile (370 km) continental shelf or the
distance to the edge of the continental shelf.
The average annual precipitation in different regions of ChinaThe climate of China
is extremely diverse; subtropical in the south to subarctic in the north. Monsoon
winds, caused by differences in the heat-absorbing capacity of the continent and
the ocean, dominate the climate. Alternating seasonal air-mass movements and
accompanying winds are moist in summer and dry in winter. The advance and
retreat of the monsoons account in large degree for the timing of the rainy season
and the amount of rainfall throughout the country. Tremendous differences in
latitude, longitude, and altitude give rise to sharp variations in precipitation and
temperature within China. Although most of the country lies in the temperate belt,
its climatic patterns are complex.
China's northernmost province Heilongjiang has a subarctic climate; its
southernmost point, Hainan Island (an island away from mainland China), has a
tropical climate. Temperature differences in winter are great, but in summer the
diversity is considerably less. For example, the northern portions of Heilongjiang
Province experience an average January mean temperature of below 0°C, and the
reading may drop to minus 30°C; the average July mean in the same area may
exceed 20 °C. By contrast, the central and southern parts of Guangdong Province
experience an average January temperature of above 10 °C, while the July mean
is about 28 °C.
Precipitation varies regionally even more than temperature. China south of the
Qinling mountains experiences abundant rainfall, most of it coming with the
summer monsoons. To the north and west of the range, however, rainfall is
uncertain. The farther north and west one moves, the scantier and more uncertain
it becomes. The northwest has the lowest annual rainfall in the country and no
precipitation at all in its desert areas. China experiences frequent typhoons (about
five per year along southern and eastern coasts), damaging floods, monsoons,
tsunamis, and droughts.
Grasslands make up about a third of China's total land area. The immense and productive grasslands are largely concentrated in Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, parts of Qinghai and Tibet. The natural
wildlife they support includes three species on the verge of extinction: Przewalski's horse, the Asiatic wild ass and the Bactrian camel (the ancestor of domesticated camels). There is often direct
competition between domestic animals and wild fauna, and herdsmen poison or trap carnivores, and sometimes set fires to increase pasture area. The government has recently stepped up efforts to
control the conversion of grasslands to pasture, but lacks the manpower to enforce policy.
Freshwater habitats are of massive importance to China, and a huge percentage of the population is directly dependent on wetlands — marshes, rivers, and lakes — for economic activity, flood control
and drinking water. Seven of the most important rivers in the world begin in the highlands of western China. The Yellow River (Huang He), Yangtze River (Chang Jiang), Lancang Jiang (Mekong) and
the Salween rise in the east of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rise in the south. Downstream these rivers serve as sources of irrigation and drinking water, modes of
transportation, and centers of cultural and religious importance for some two billion people in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and throughout Southeast Asia. These rivers rise and gather strength
from many of the thousands of freshwater lakes of the region.
China's northeast is the focus for much of the country's freshwater marshes. Two million hectares on the Sanjiang Plain of Heilongjiang are essentially a collection of shallow freshwater lakes and
reed-beds where the Heilongjiang, Sungari, and Wusuli rivers come together. Jilin, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia all share these ecosystems. One of the most well-known wildlife areas in this
ecosystem is Zhalong Nature Reserve, a 2,000-square-kilometer area which was created in 1979 to protect breeding areas for the red-crowned crane, and other wintering migrants. These marshes
are also of great value for reed production, the bulk of which is turned into pulp for paper. Waterfowl and reed production can usually co-exist, at least at present levels, so this is a useful confluence of
conservation and economic uses. In western Sichuan, marshland provides breeding grounds for the black-necked crane and bar-headed goose.
China's freshwater lakes include the country's best-known wetlands: Jiangxi's Poyang Hu and Hunan's Dongting Hu. Dongting Hu, China's second largest freshwater lake, is vitally important for
wildlife, including the highly endangered Yangtze river dolphin and Chinese sturgeon, as well as more wintering wildfowl. Poyang Hu is a similar complex of small lakes and marsh areas which
fluctuates seasonally; summer floods give way in autumn to fertile agricultural land, attractive both to farmers and visiting birds. The importance of the area is hard to overstate, as the lakes provide a
wintering habitat for almost the entire world population of two hundred Siberian Cranes, and as many as five hundred thousand birds may be on Poyang Hu at any one time during the winter months. In
recent years, however, some of Poyang's larger lakes have been drained at the end of autumn, leaving waterfowl with inadequate shallow land on which to feed.
About half of China's lakes are saline and, once again, are important breeding grounds for waterfowl. Most are concentrated in northwest China on the inland drainage systems of the North Tibetan
Plain and in the Zaidan basin. The largest is Qinghai Lake, a 4,426-square-kilometer reserve which attracts thousands of birds each summer, including cormorants, great black-headed gulls, bar-
headed geese and pied avocets. Similarly, the Tarim River basin in Xinjiang supports one of the largest breeding populations of black stork in China. The Ordos plateau area of Inner Mongolia as well
as the Xinjiang's Taolimiao-Alashan Nur (lake) support breeding sites for the endangered relict gull. Most of these lakes and marshes fluctuate seasonally and are threatened by increased diversion of
water for human use.
China's coastline is approximately 18,000 km long, extending from the Bohai Gulf, which freezes in the winter, to the tropical waters of the South China Sea. Coastal wetlands are important as fuel
stops for waterfowl on the migratory route between Siberia and Australia. Chongming Island in the Yangtze River delta near Shanghai - China's largest city and one of its fastest growing regions - is
vital for these migrants.
Main article: Wildlife of China
China lies in two of the world's major ecozones, the Palearctic and the Indomalaya. In the Palearctic zone are found such important mammals as the horse, camel, tapir, and jerboa. Among the
species found in the Indomalaya region are the Leopard Cat, bamboo rat, treeshrew, and various other species of monkeys and apes. Some overlap exists between the two regions because of natural
dispersal and migration, and deer or antelope, bears, wolves, pigs, and rodents are found in all of the diverse climatic and geological environments. The famous giant panda is found only in a limited
area along the Chang Jiang. There is a continuing problem with trade in endangered species, although there are now laws to prohibit such activities.
Environment of China
List of rivers in China
List of cities in China
Lakes in China
North China Plain
Geography of Hong Kong
Geography of Macau
^ CIA World Fact Book - Geography Note. CIA. Retrieved on 2008-03-25.
^ Population by Sex, Rate of Population Increase, Surface Area and Density. Demographic Yearbook 2005. UN Statistics Division. Retrieved on 2008-03-25.
^ United States. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved on 2008-03-25.
^ Natural World: Deserts. National Geographic. Retrieved on 2007-07-23.
Chun Lin, Hans Hendrischke, The Territories of the People's Republic of China. Europa Publications, First edition, 2002, London. 264 pages. ISBN 1-85743-149-9 (Each region is presented in 5-8
pages, with : physical Geography, History, Economy, Directory).
Comparative size of China with other regions