Regional Geography of China

 

Outline

 

1. Physical Characteristics

            a.         Relative location

            b.         Landscape and Physical Environment

            c.         Weather and climate

2. Human Characteristics

            a.         Population, Density and Age/Sex characteristics

            b.         Language and religion

            c.         Cultural/ethnic groups

3. Economic Characteristics

            a.         Major economic activities

            b.         Imports and Exports

            c.         GNP and GNP per capita

4. References

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Physical Characteristics

 

a.         Relative location

            China is the largest country in Asia, with a total area of 9,596 million square kilometers. It is located in eastern Asia, south of Mongolia and Russia, and north of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. To the west lie Nepal, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan and other of the Central Asian countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. The East China Sea lies to the east of China, with Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines as neighbors in that sea. Hong Kong, in southeastern China, was formerly a colony of Britain and was returned to China in 1997.

 

b.         Landscape and Physical Environment

            The Chinese government divides China into five physical regions: the northeast plain, the north plain and the southern hills, all located in east China, and Xianjing-Mongolia and the Tibetan plateau. Generally, the land in western China has higher elevations, and those decline as you move east. Most of western China is dominated by mountains and high elevation plateaus. The country's arable land is concentrated in the eastern half of the country with most of that in the southeast quadrant. Historically, China had been defined by two rivers, the mighty Yangtze, which bisects the country from west east, running from the mountains of Tibet, through central China and entering the east China sea near Shanghai, and the HuangHe or Yellow river, which flows from Tibet through northern before dumping into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean peninsula.

 

c.         Weather and climate

            Because China is so large, ranging over many longitudes and latitudes, it has a very diverse range of climates. The far south of China, for example, has a tropical climate, while the

far north of the country has a subarctic climate. Precipitation is concentrated into the warmer months across the country but is also variable in amount throughout the country. Far northwest China may see as little as 25 mm of precipitation per year, while areas of Southeast China regularly see over 2000 mm per year.

 

Human Characteristics

 

a.         Population, Density and Age/Sex characteristics

            The population of China in mid-2018 was 1,393.8 billion people, making China the world's most populous country. It is projected to grow through 2030 to 1,419.5 billion, then to decrease through 2050 to 1343.9 billion people.

            The overall fertility rate is comparable to Western nations, which reflects China's recent efforts to control population growth. In 2018, there were 12 live births per 1000 persons in China, compared to 7 deaths per thousand, resulting in a natural population growth rate of .5%. The ratio of men to women in the Chinese population is 1.06 to 1.

         China's population density is 144.28 per square kilometer. This figure can be misleading, however, as parts of China, primarily in the east, are much more densely populated and parts of China, primarily in the north and west are very sparsely populated.

            In 2018, 17% of the population was under the age of 15, a percentage that is expected to decline to 14% in 2050. In contrast, 11% of the population was over 65 in 2018, and that percentage is projected to increase to 26% by 2050. Thus, while the population of China is expected to decline slightly over the next 30 years, it will become much older. In 2015, China loosened its one child policy to allow families to have two children as a way to address problems created by its aging population.

 

b.         Language and religion

            China is a country of dialects, with different dialects spoken throughout the country. People from one part of China often cannot speak to or communicate with citizens from other parts of China. The official Chinese national dialect is Mandarin, which is based on the dialect originating Beijing. Other significant dialects include the Yue, or Cantonese, dialect, spoken predominantly in Guangdong province, and the Wu, or Shanghainese dialect, spoken in the area surrounding Shanghai.

            The Chinese government doesn't recognize an official religion, although the Chinese constitution purports to protect the freedom of religious belief, the actual practice of religion is often discouraged or persecuted. The Chinese state recognizes five official religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism. The Chinese government reports that about 10% of the population practices some religious faith, although outsiders believe that the percentage is much larger. In recent years, some religious beliefs, such as Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim and Falun Gong, have been actively persecuted by the Chinese government.

 

c.         Cultural/ethnic groups

            The Han Chinese are overwhelmingly the largest ethnic group in China, with more than 90% of the population. However, there are numerous ethnic groups in the country. The largest other ethnic group, the Zhuang, are concentrated in southeastern China, in the Guangxi Autonomous region. Other significant ethnic groups include the Hui, Manchu, Uighur and Miao.

 

Economic Characteristics

 

a.         Major economic activities

            Since the 1970's, China has been transitioning from a state-planned economy to a system with many elements of capitalism, although central state planning for the economy remains important. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a growth rate averaging 7% from 2013 to 2017. Services comprise slightly more than half of China's economy; industrial activity roughly 40% and agriculture less than 10%. The labor force is not distributed in proportion to the dollar value of economic activity, however, as agriculture continues to employ nearly 28% of the population.

 

b.         Imports and Exports

            China became the world's largest exporter in 2010 and the largest trading partner in 2013. It is also the second largest importer in the world exports were over $2.2 trillion in 2017, and imports were over $1.7 trillion. The largest customers for Chinese exports are the United States, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea; its largest import partners are South Korea, Japan, the United states, Germany and Australia. China's top exports are all different types of electronic equipment, including broadcasting equipment, computers and integrated circuits. Its top imports include integrated circuits, oil, iron ore, cars and gold.

 

c.         GNP and GNP per capita

            According to the World Bank, China's GNP in 2017 was 12,904,275 million dollars, and its GNP per capita in 2017 was $8690.

 

References

 

Berglee, R. (2013). World Regional Geography. Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge. Retrieved April 12, 2019 from Bookshare, Inc.

 

Central Intelligence Agency. (2019). China. In The world factbook. Retrieved April 12, 2019 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

 

Planet, Lonely. Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide). Lonely Planet Global Limited. Kindle Edition.

 

Population Reference Bureau. Data Center: International Data: China. (2019). Retrieved April 12, 2019, from https://www.prb.org/international/geography/china

 

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Submitted by Leah Johnson on April 12, 2019