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China: An Introduction

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The People's Republic of China is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, existing over 5000 years. China, situated in East Asia between latitudes 35 north and longitudes 105 east occupies a total area of 9.6 million square kilometers; almost the entire central and eastern Asia. It is the most populated nations in the world. China is bound by Russia and Mongolia to the north; North Korea in the northeast; the former Soviet Republics of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in the northwest; Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan to the west and southwest; and Myanmar, Lao PDR and Vietnam to the south. The major cities of China are Beijing (capital), Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

China has a diverse topography ranging from highlands to the coastal lowlands. China's relief is high in the west and low in the east, making the rivers flow eastwards draining into the East China Sea. Qinghai-plateau, known as the "roof of the world" with an average height of 16,500 feet, one of the highest points in the world is located here. The five major landforms found here are the mountains, plateaus, hills, plains and basins.

This diverse topography consequently affects the climate of China making it equally diverse ranging from extremely dry, desert-like conditions in the northwest to tropical monsoons in the southeast. Owing to this extreme climate China suffers from a variety of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, droughts, typhoons, forest-fires etc. Among all these hazards, droughts, floods, earthquakes and typhoons are the most destructive.



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