China is situated in the eastern part of Asia, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean. Its land territory of 9.6million square kilometres, and it has 6,536 islands exceeding over 500 square metres. Beautiful China is the world's third largest country after Russia and Canada. China boasts a land boundary exceeding 20,000 km in length and is bordered by over 20 countries,Russia and Mongolia in the north;Korea in the northeast;Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the northwest; India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan in the southwest;Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam in the souh.Across seas to the east and southeast China faces Japan,Philippines, Malaysia,Brunei,and Indonesia.
China has a rather varied landscape. The eastern coastal plains, the highlands, and the fertile valleys of the rivers Huang He and Yangtze are the most highly populated areas of China. The Tibetan plateau, which is hemmed in by the Himalayas, is in western China. The world's highest mountain, Everest, is on the Nepal-Tibet border. Some areas in the west are desert areas or covered by grass, while the southeast boasts some of the world's most lush forests, including the bamboo forest that the giant panda calls home.
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.
Although the physical features are as described, 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 Qin 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.
China has large areas of mountainous land, about two-thirds of the country. The ranges mainly run from east to west and from northeast to southwest. 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. Taishan, Mt. Huashan, and Mt. Emeishan, also display their unique beauty.
Rivers and Lakes
China has 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.Lakes are also important.
The areas with the most lakes are the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Many lakes in the northwest are salty. Qinghai Lake, a beautiful natural salt-water lake, is the largest. In southeast China, most lakes are fresh water. Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake , Chaohu Lake,Hongze Lake and Taihu Lake are all five fasous fresh water lakes.These provide China with precious resources such as aquatic products, petroleum, natural gas, mines and renewable resources including tide power.