China - Geography

Guiding Questions

1. How has China's geography shaped the country's society, culture, economy and politics? 

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  • Being located where it is, China has had an interesting settlement of people and culture. There were several natural barriers such as the Tibet Plateau, Gobi Desert, The Himalayas mountain Range, and the Pacific ocean that have kept certain people out and hard to expand outward.

    By it's economic boom, farmers who make up 35% of the work force have been forced to find new places to farm or other jobs all together. Several farms back up to major cities and crops do not grow as strongly as they have in the past.

    Although many rivers flood such as the Huang Her River, also called the River of Sorrows, people continue to live near them due to the rich Loess (yellow) soil that gets deposited after a flood. With many lands being taken to development, this is one of the reasons farmers will risk living close so that they can reap the profits of a fertile land.

    Fascinating to see how some of the Chinese have adapted to living near the outskirts of China such as the villagers near the Gobi Desert. When I think of China, I do not think of visiting Swan Lake and part of the desert as a tourist attraction, but the government is actually subsidizing income to families that continues to strive in these areas. This gave me a new perspective on the Chinese culture that lives outside the Urban cities.
  • 1. How can it not? Every society is shaped by climate and geography. Difference between climate and geography shape regions within the same country, such as China. We can compare the North China plain with the Manchuria or with the Yangtze River Valley. The abundance of standing water on the North China plain creates an environment that produces an abundance of reeds that are used in thatched housing and ponds created by this water provide a natural environment for fisheries and agriculture. In Manchuria, a mining region, the climate is cold and rural peoples live in cliff dwellings with a large Russian influence on towns and villages. The Yangzi Valley is a trading center and yearly rains bring unpredictable river levels, so many live on boats.
    • Wonderful in-depth response. I've always been fascinated by the different natural borders of the Chinese landscape. For instance, the Himalayas are on the edge southwestern China, encompass
      Tibet and Nepal and forming a natural barrier along the border of India. As you mention, the Yangtze is a natural marker of the division of North and South China. It is interesting to connect this with how certain disputes over land have and continue to play out.
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Interactive Map of China

Village in the City

Village in the City from BAMM global on Vimeo.

Geography of China Podcast: Mr. Zoller

Articles, Essays & Other Resources

Life on the Forgotten Farms of Guangzhou, by Adam Sneed, CityLab, April 2017

The World Factbook: China Central Intelligence Agency

The Nine Nations of China by Patrick Chovanec, The Atlantic, November 2009

China's Geographic Challenge Stratfor 

Understanding the Geography of China Asia Society

The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea? by Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010

Maps of China Asia for Educators, Columbia University

Recommended Maps of China East Asia in Geographic Perspective, Columbia University

The China Game Asia Society. Based on a board game created at the University of Vermont, this interactive trivia-type flash game has students answer questions about Chinese history and geography to “race” a dragon from the city of Harbin in the east to Urumqi in the west.

What's in a Name? Chinese Rivers, Cities, and Provinces Asia for Educators, Columbia University

Living in China’s Expanding Deserts, The New York Times, October 2016

Featured Lesson Plans

China Through Mapping by Mimi Norton, Annenburg Learner, Grades K-2. In this lesson, Mimi Norton integrates world geography with the study of Chinese culture and history by engaging her young students in a variety of activities to locate natural and human-made landmarks on maps of China. To build background for this lesson, she has had the students create salt-dough maps of China and label them with map symbols. 

Geography of China Middle School. The full "Journey to China" unit covers a course of study on medieval China in accordance with 7th grade California State Standards.

5 Themes of Geography by Andrea Dumolt, Special Education, Grades 9-10. This lesson will provide the students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the 5 themes of geography and relate the 5 themes to China and the Silk Road.

China by the Numbers

How far is it to Beijing ? What time is it now in China?

What is the cost of living in Beijing, China compared to living in Washington, DC?