China's topography is varied
and complicated, with towering mountains, basins of
different sizes, undulating plateaus and hills, and
flat and fertile plains.
A bird's eye view of China
would indicate that China's terrain descends in four
steps from west to east.
The top of this four-step
"staircase" is the Qinhai-Tibet Plateau.
Averaging more than 4,000 m above sea level, it is
often called the "roof of the world."
Rosomg 8,848 m above sea level is Mt. Qomolangma,
the world's highest peak and the main peak of the
The second step includes the
Inner Mongolia, Loess and Yunnan-Guizhou plateaus,
and the Tarim, Junggar and Sichuan basins, with an
average elevation of between 1,000 m and 2,000 m.
The third step, about 500 -
1,000 m in elevation, begins at a line drawn around
the Greater Hinggan, Taihang, Wushan and Xuefeng
mountain ranges and extends eastward to the coast.
Here, from north to south are the Northeast Plain,
the North China Plain and the Middle-Lower Yangtze
Plain. Interspersed amongst the plains are
hills and foothills.
To the east, the land extends
out into the ocean, in a continental shelf, the
fourth step of the staircase. The water here
is less than 200 m deep.
China abounds in
rivers. More than 1,500 rivers each drain
1,000 sq km or larger areas. More than 2,700
billion cu m of water flow along these rivers, 5.8
percent of the world's total. Most of the
large rivers find their source in the Qinghai-Tibet
Plateau, and as a result China is rich in waterpower
resources, leading the world in hydropower
potential, with reserves of 680 million kw.
can be categorized as exterior and interior systems.
The catchment area for the exterior rivers that
empty into the oceans accounts for 64 percent of the
country's total land area. The Yangtze, Tello,
Heilongjiang, Peal, Liaohe, Haihe, Huaihe, and
Lancang rivers flow east, and empty into the Pacific
Ocean. The Yarlungzangbo River in Tibet, which
flows first east and then south into the Indian
Ocean, boasts the Grand Yarlungzangbo Canyon, the
largest canyon in the world, 504.6 km long and 6.009
The Ertix River
flows from the Xingjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to
the Artic Ocean. The catchment area for the
interior rivers that flow into inland lakes or
disappear into deserts or salt marshes makes up 36
percent of China's total land area. Its 2,179
km make the Tarim River in southern Xinjiang Chian's
longest interior river.
The Yangtze is
the largest river in China, and the third-longest in
the world, next only to the Nile in northeast Africa
and the Amazon in South America. It is 6.300
km long and has a catchment area of 1.809 million sq
km. The middle and lower Yangtze River's warm
and humid climate, plentiful rainfall and fertile
soil make the area an important agricultural region.
Known as the
"golden waterway," the Yangtze is a
transportation artery linking west and east.
The Yellow River is the second-largest river in
China, 5,464 km in length, with a catchment area of
752,000 sq km. The Yellow River valley was one
of the birthplaces of ancient Chinese civilization.
It has lush pastureland and abundant mineral
deposits. The Heilongjiang River is north
It has a total
length of 4.350 km, of which 3,101 km are within
China. The Pearl River is the largest river in
south China, with a total length of 2.214 km.
In addition to those endowed by nature, China has a
famous man-made river - the Grand Canal, running
from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south.
Work first began on the Grand Canal as early as in
the fifth century B.C.
It links five
major rivers - the Haihe, Yellow, Huaihe, Yangtze
and Qiantang. With a total length of 1,801 km,
the Grand Canal is the longest as well as the oldest
man-made waterway in the world.
China has a
marked continental monsoonal climate characterized
by great variety. Northerly winds prevail in
winter, while southerly winds reign in summer.
The four seasons are quite distinct. The rainy
season coincides with the hot season.
September to April the following year, the dry and
cold winter monsoons from Siberia and Mongolia in
the north gradually become weak as they reach the
southern part of the country, resulting in cold and
dry winters and great differences in temperature.
The cold summer monsoons last from April to
The warm and
moist summer monsoons from the oceans bring abundant
rainfall and high temperatures, with little
difference in temperature between the south and the
north. China's complex and varied climate
results in a great variety of temperature belts, and
dry and moist zones.
In terms of
temperature, the nation can be sectored from the
south to north into equatorial, tropical,
sub-tropical, warm-temperate, temperate, and
cold-temperate zones; in terms of moisture, it can
be sectored from southeast to northwest into humid
(32 percent of land area), semi0humid (15 percent),
semi-arid (22 percent) and arid zones (31 percent).
AND MINERAL RESOURCES
and distribution of China's land resources have
three major characteristics: (1) variety in type-
cultivated land, forests, grasslands, deserts and
tide-land; (2) many more mountains and plateaus than
flatlands and basins; (3) unbalanced distribution:
farmland mainly concentrated in the east, grasslands
largely in the west and north, and forests mostly in
the far northeast and southwest.
In China today,
108 million ha of land are cultivated, mainly in the
Northeast Plain, the North China Plain, the
Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain, the Pearl River Delta
Plain and the Sichuan Basin. The fertile black
soil of the Northeast Plain is ideal for growing
wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, flax and sugar
The deep, brown
topsoil of the North China Plain in planted with
wheat, corn, millet, sorghum and cotton. The
Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain's many lakes and rivers
make is particularly suitable for paddy rice and
freshwater fish, hence its designation of "land
of fish and rice." This area also
produces large quantities of tea and silkworms.
The purplish soil of the warm and humid Sichuan
Basin is green with crops in all four seasons,
including paddy rice, rapeseed and tangerines.
128,63 million ha of China. The Greater
Hinggan, the Lesser Hinggan and the Changbai
mountain ranges in the northeast are China's largest
natural forest areas. Major tree species found
here include conifers, such as Korea pine, larch and
Olga Bay larch, and the broadleaves such as white
birch, oak, willow, elm and Northeast China ash.
species of the southwest include the dragon spruce,
fir and Yunnan pine, as well as precious teak trees,
red sandalwood, camphor trees, manmu and padauk.
Often called a "kingdom of plants,"
Xishuangbanna is southern Yunnan Province is a
rarity in that it is a tropical broadleaf forest
playing host to more than 5,000 plant species.
China cover an area of 400 million ha, stretching
more than 3,000 km from the northeast to the
southwest. They are the centers of animal
husbandry. The Inner Mongolian Prairie is
China's largest natural pastureland, and home to
Sanhe horses, Sanhe cattle and Mongolian sheep.
natural pasturelands north and south of the Tianshan
Mountains in Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang are
ideal for stock breeding. The famous Ili
horses and Xinjiang fine-wool sheep are raised here.
cultivated lands, forest and grasslands are among
the world's largest in terms of sheer area.
But due to China's large population, the areas of
cultivated land, forest and grassland per capita are
small, especially in the case of cultivated
land--less than 0.08 ha per capita, or only one
third of the world's average.
China is rich in
mineral resources, and all the world's known
minerals can be found here. To date,
geologists have confirmed reserves of 151 different
minerals, putting China third in the world in total
reserves. Proven reserves of energy sources
include coal, petroleum, natural gas, and oil shale;
and radioactive minerals include uranium and
coal reserves total 1,002.49 billion tons, mainly
distributed in north China, with Shanxi and the
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region taking the lead.
Petroleum reserves are mainly in northwest and also
in northeast China, north China and the continental
shelves in east China. Proven reserves of
ferrous metals include iron, manganese, vanadium and
billion tons of iron ore are mainly distributed in
northeast, north and southwest China. The
Anshan-Benxi Area in Liaoning, east Hebei and
Panzhihua in Sichuan are major iron producers.
China has the world's largest reserves of tungsten,
tin, antimony, zinc, molybdenum, lead, mercury and
other nonferrous metals; its reserves of rare earth
metals far exceed the total for the rest of the
provided by the Chinese Embassy