Geography of China

The People’s Republic of China is currently the second largest economy in the world, the third largest country in the world on the surface (9,597,000 km²) and the largest national population (more than 1.3 billion inhabitants).

This country, rich in ancient, brilliant civilization for more than a century, was dominated by foreign powers, especially European powers, until 1949, when it became a socialist.

The country is marked by innumerable contrasts, such as the great disparity between the industrialized, fast-developing eastern part and the rural, poor, rural western part.

Physical aspects of China


China has the third largest territory in the world (9.6 million square kilometers), surpassed only by the territories of Russia and Canada. The country reveals a great physiographic contrast between the western and eastern portions.

In relation to the relief (geological structure), the Chinese territory presents, in the western portion, the plateaus, with great prominence for the Plateau of Tibet , considered the “ceiling of the world”, due to the average elevations that surpass the 4 thousand meters.

In the south-western part, bordering India, Nepal and Bhutan, countries of South Asia, the imposing Himalayan Mountain Range – a chain of the Tertiary Period formed by the convergence of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates, due to a modern folding, area with intense shakes seismic process because it is an orogenic process.

In the Himalayas is Mount Everest, the culminating point of the 8,848-meter-high planet, located on the border between China (attached territory of Tibet) and Nepal.


In the eastern portion, there are extensive alluvial plains, with fertile soils bathed by exorbitant and perennial rivers, such as Huang-ho (Yellow River) and Yangtze-Kiang (Blue River), whose springs are located in the Tibet.

Along these alluvial plains with high fertility, in which stands out the Yellow River, which presents soil of loess (type of deposit of yellowed soil that was transported by the wind), there is great population concentration, with intense agricultural development.

In the face of the successive water crises experienced by the population to the north, the Chinese government implemented the megaproject of transposition of waters from the south to the north , aiming to supply the region of the capital Beijing through three channels south-north. The largest transposition work was called Water Transposition from the South to the North. On December 27, 2014, the waters of the Yangtze River arrived in Beijing, after traveling 1,200 km in 15 days, at the culmination of the first part of the transposition work.

In the west, there are endorheic rivers, which eventually disappear because of the desert or flowing into lakes, within the territory. The Central Asia Basin is the world’s largest endorheic basin.

Climate and vegetation

Located almost entirely in the Northern Temperate Zone, the great Chinese territory presents great climatic and landscape diversity, influenced by latitude, relief, continentality and monsoon.

In it, there is arid and semi- arid climate , with vegetation of xerophilous and steppes; cold mountain, with mountain vegetation (altitude) in the Tibetan area; temperate and subtropical , with vegetation of temperate and subtropical forest and presence of deciduous and subcaducifólias; tropical monsoon , rainy summer and dry winter, with rainforest vegetation. The bamboo vegetation is present in the east-southeast of the territory.

Human Aspects of China

The Chinese population, currently the largest in the world, is composed of 56 ethnic groups, of which the Han group is the majority, representing 92% of the national population. The rest of the population is made up of groups like zhuang, manchu, hui, miao, uyghur, tujia, yi, mongol, tibetan, buyi, dong, yao and korean.

After the Revolution of 1949, the Chinese population began to show strong population growth due to the high vegetative growth (high birth and fertility rates). Rapid population growth has become a state concern, and China’s central government has implemented a stringent birth control bill: the one -child policy .

The population is distributed heterogeneously across the territory, that is, unequally, with sparsely populated areas in the west, with desert plateaus and mountains, in contrast to large densely populated areas, often considered as human anthills in the eastern is favored by climates and fluvial plains.

In Tibet, Sinkiang and Mongolia, in the continental interior, the densities are close to 15 hab./km²; in China monsoon (east), the density exceeds 400 hab./km².

In the region of the eastern plains (east), where relief and climate favor human occupation, there are more than 80% of the national population, with a strong Han predominance. Recently, the government has been trying, through the creation of mining and irrigated agriculture projects, to intensify the settlement of the regions to the west.

Major cities

  • Shanghai (with 20 million inhabitants), an important industrial, financial and port center at the mouth of the Yangtze River;
  • Beijing (capital with 16 million inhabitants), financial center (mainly concentrated in the central area of ​​Guomao), commercial and industrial and main cultural center of China;
  • Guangzhou or Guangzhou (with approximately 13 million inhabitants), large industrial center (the largest in the Zhu Jiang or Sikiang or Xun Jiang River), commercial, port and financial area, with modern bullet train transport system;
  • Tianjin (with 12 million inhabitants), industrial center;
  • Nanjing or Nanqu m (with 10 million inhabitants), large industrial, commercial and historical-cultural center; located in one of China’s largest economic zones, the Yangtze-Kiang River Delta, the city was occupied in World War II by the Japanese army, which committed numerous atrocities such as looting, arson and execution of thousands of prisoners of war , mainly civilians;
  • Wuhan (with 8 million inhabitants), industrial and port center (Yangtze River);
  • Shenzhen (with 10 million inhabitants), industrial and financial center;
  • Hong Kong (with 7.2 million inhabitants), Special Administrative Region that stands out as Asian Tiger .
Geography of China
Geography of China

Economy of China

The Chinese economy is highly diversified but is dominated by the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, although its other sectors are quite significant.


Agriculture is still an important agricultural activity for the Chinese economy and occupies a large part of the working population. Until the economic reforms of the 1970s, agriculture was based on production on collective estates (communal communes), which maintained a traditional production system with great use of labor.

Agricultural modernization is recent and still has government interference, as there is a great deal of government fears about excessive migration to cities – an additional 182 million migrants are projected to move to urban areas by 2020.

  • In the western portion of the territory, cotton and wheat production depends on state action through large irrigation projects with 60 million irrigated hectares.
  • In the eastern portion, especially in Manchuria and the Huang-ho River Basin (Yellow), the presence of fertile soils of alluvial origin favors the cultivation of wheat, sorghum, beet and soybeans.
  • In the southeastern portion, the monsoon climate has a stronger influence on the cultivation of tropical products such as rice, sugar cane, tobacco, blackberries, tea and maize, especially the Yangtze River Basin (Blue) .

Chinese livestock farming is characterized by a large herd of pigs (the world’s largest herd of more than 430 million), sheep and cattle, with numbers above 100 million respectively, as well as chickens and ducks.

Although agricultural activity has great production capacity, in many cases it is insufficient to meet domestic demand, generating the need to import agricultural crops – for example, soybeans and beef and poultry from Brazil.

The country was ranked in 2014 as the world’s leading producer of foods such as pork and rice. The production of grains exceeds 450 million tons per year. Among the producers of milk, chicken and beef, China is in third.

Another key aspect is its permanence among the seven largest agricultural exporters in the world, with maize and rice being the main products exported, mainly to Japan and South Korea.

Mechanization and private property advance on the fields, expanding production, though there are still 150 million Chinese suffering from hunger.


China has important basic conditions for the development of industrial activity: raw materials (iron, tungsten, antimony, tin, manganese, mercury, rare earths, phosphates etc.), cheap labor, consumer market and energy sources , oil, shale, hydropower and enormous potential in solar energy) in abundance.

Prior to the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the exploration of the territory was reserved for large international enterprises, especially European and Japanese, which produced consumer goods and were predominantly close to large raw material reserves, for example in Manchuria, and in areas with easy access to the coast, such as Tientsin and Shanghai.

With the transformation of the country into a socialist republic, multinationals were banned and state investments converged on basic industries such as steel, heavy machinery, transport equipment and metallurgy.

The great change experienced by the industry occurred with the introduction of the policy of the Great Four Great Modernizations , since the industrial sector was the most privileged with the entry of international capital from the 1970s, revolutionizing its productive system and modernizing the country.

To give you an idea, China was the 23rd world GDP in 1979, rising to ninth, in 1995, and second in 2010; its foreign trade, which was inexpressive before economic opening in the 1970s, jumped to No. 1 in 2013, allowing the country successive trade surpluses and the accumulation of foreign exchange reserves.

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