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Geography of China

China, the People’s Republic of China, with a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers and a water area of about 4.73 million square kilometers, is the biggest country in Asia and the third largest country in the world.
Geographic Location
Click here to see the larger mapSituated in eastern Asia,and on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, the People’s Republic of China covers a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers, with an inland and coastal water area of more than 4.7 million square kilometers and an eastern and southern continental coastline extending for about 18,000 kilometers. Its vast maritime territory is studded with 7,600 islands, of which Taiwan is the largest with an area of 35,798 square kilometers.
More Read: Location Map of China

The territorial sea of China is composed of the Bohai Sea (inland sea) and the three major side seas of the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. The eastern and southern mainland coastlines are 18,000 kilometers.

China is bordered by 14 countries -- Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Mongolia, and Russia. The Marine-side neighbors of China include 8 countries -- North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. 

China boasts 4 municipalities directly under central government administration, 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 2 special administrative regions.  Sansha City located in South China Sea is the newest prefecture-level city in China.
Geographic Features
The topography descends toward sea level from west to east and gives rise to a variety of landforms. The vast land expanses of China include plateaus, plains, basins, foothills, and mountains. Defining rugged plateaus, foothills and mountains as mountainous, they occupy nearly two-thirds of the land, higher in the West and lower in the East like a three-step ladder.

The first step of the typical 'ladder topography' is formed by the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at the average height of over 4,000 meters, with the Kunlunshan range, Qilianshan range and Hengduan mountain chain as the division between this step and the second one. The highest peak in the world, Everest, at 8844.43 meters high is known as 'the Roof of the World'.

The second step are large basins and plateaus, most of which are 1,000 - 2,000 meters high. The Daxing'an, Taihang, Wu and Xuefeng Mountains divide this step and the next lower one. Plateaus including Inner Mongolian, Loess, Yungui Plateaus, and basins such as Tarim, Junggar, and Sichuan Basins are situated here.

The third step, abundant in broad plains, is dotted with the foothills and lower mountains, with altitudes of over 500 meters. Here are located famous plains: the Northeast, the North China, and the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plains, neighboring with each other from north to south. These well-cultivated and fertile lands produce abundant crops.

Mountainous Topography
Click the China Topgraphic Map, you can learn more about geopgraphy of China. There are many mountain ranges in China. Those extending from east to west are the Tianshan-Yinshan ranges and those in the center are the Kunlun-Qinling ranges, and those in the south are the Nanling ranges. Ranges that stretch in a NE-SW direction are, for the most part, located in the eastern part of China. They are the Greater Hinggan Range, Taihang, Wushan, Xuefengshan, Changbaishan and Wuyishan ranges. Those running in a NW-SE direction are the Altai and Qilianshan ranges. Ranges that run in a north-south direction are the Hengduanshan and Helanshan ranges. And on the border between China and India, Nepal and other countries looms the 2, 400 kilometers-long Himalayan Range with an average elevation of 6, 000m.

Among these mountains, some reach to the sky, and others are lower with charming scenery. Out of the mountains throughout the world at the altitude of over 7,000 meters, over 50 stand in China. To the east in China, lower mountains like Mt.Tianzishan, Mt Fanjingshan, Mt. Huashan, and Mt. Emeishan, also display their unique beauty. In addition, they hide rich treasures including botanic, zoologic, and mineral resources.

Rivers & Lakes
In China, there are numerous rivers and lakes. According to statistics, more than 50,000 rivers have drainage areas that exceed 100 square kilometers; more than 1,500 exceed 1,000 square kilometers. These rivers can also be classified as exterior and interior rivers. The Yangtze, the longest in China and even in Asia, is the third-longest in the world. The Yellow River, 'Mother River of the Chinese People', is just behind the Yangtze, both flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The Yarlung Zangbo River belongs to the Indian Ocean water system, and the Irtysh River to the Arctic Ocean. On the other side, the interior rivers drain less area than the exterior ones. Jinghang Canal, which stretches for 1,794 kilometers, is one of the longest artificial canals in the world.

Qinghai Lake has an area of 4,583 square kilometers and is the largest inland salt water lake in China. Poyang Lake has an area of 3,583 square kilometers and is China’s largest freshwater lake.  

Islands & Straits
With a total length of more than 18,000 kilometers, the coastline of mainland China starts from the mouth of Liaoning Yalu River in the north and reaches the mouth of Guangxi Beilun River in the south. China has a total sea area of 4.73 million square kilometers, and there are thousands of islands in China, which mainly include Taiwan Island, Hainan Island, Diaoyu Island, Huangyan Island, Zhoushan Islands, Nanri Islands, Xisha Islands, Nansha Islands, Dongsha Islands, Zhongsha Islands, Penghu Islands and so on. In addition, there are the Three Straits such as the Bohai Strait, Taiwan Strait and Qiongzhou Strait.

Regional Divisions
Usually, people tend to divide China into four regions, that is, the North, South, Northwest and the Qinghai-Tibetan areas. Because of geographical differences, residents of each region have distinctive life styles and customs.
The North and South regions are located in the Eastern monsoon area and are divided by the Qinling Mountains-Huai River. Nearly 95 percent of the Chinese population lives here. The other two regions, the Northwest and Qinghai-Tibetan regions that occupy 55 percent of the land, have fewer people, although most of the ethnic groups cluster there.

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