Chinese Civilization

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CHINESE CIVILIZATION Wikipedia: China Thinkquest: Discovering China & Beauty: The Land of China

Part I

The land here is broad and diverse. Among this immense piece of earth, one can find both farmer and businessman; mountain and plain; drought and rainfall; wasteland and farmland. It is vast, it is multifaceted. And yet these collections of disparate and dissimilar presences are bound as one, side by side with each other. They are together, they are connected. They are united, united under one name: China.

It is impossible to choose a single word that exactly represents all the land of China. The Himalayan Mountains might have "majesty," or the Forbidden City might have "opulence," but certainly the two are quite different and cannot be swapped. Yet there is a word that can describe all the land of China: the cities, the mountains, the villages, the plains, the towns, the rivers, the deserts. That word is Beauty.

China's cultural sphere has extended across East Asia as a whole, with Chinese religion, customs, and writing systems being adapted to varying degrees by neighbors such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The first evidence of human presence in the region was found at the Zhoukoudian cave. It is one of the first known specimens of Homo erectus, now commonly known as the Peking Man, estimated to have lived from 300,000 to 780,000 years ago

China ranges from mostly plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east. Principal rivers flow from west to east, including the Yangtze (central), the Huang He (Yellow river, north-central), and the Amur (northeast), and sometimes toward the south (including the Pearl River, Mekong River, and Brahmaputra), with most Chinese rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains. On the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, grasslands can be seen. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Huang Heand Yangtze River. Most of China's arable lands lie along these rivers, and they were the centers of China's major ancient civilizations. Other major rivers include the Pearl River, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. Yunnan Province is considered a part of the Greater Mekong Subregion, which also includes Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.[47]

In the west, the north has a great alluvial plain, and the south has a vast calcareous tableland traversed by hill ranges of moderate elevation, and the Himalayas, containing Earth's highest point, Mount Everest. The northwest also has high plateaus with more arid desert landscapes such as the Takla-Makan and the Gobi Desert, which has been expanding. During many dynasties, the southwestern border of China has been the high mountains and deep valleys of Yunnan, which separate modern China from Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

The Paleozoic formations of China, excepting only the upper part of the Carboniferous system, are marine, while the Mesozoic and Tertiary deposits are estuarine and freshwater, or else of terrestrial origin. Groups of volcanic cones occur in the Great Plain of north China. In the Liaodong and Shandong Peninsulas, there are basaltic plateaus.

Part II

Society. Hundreds of ethnic groups have existed in China throughout its history. The largest ethnic group in China by far is the Han. This group, however, is internally diverse and can be further divided into smaller ethnic groups that share similar traits.

Over the last three millennia, many previously distinct ethnic groups in China have been Sinicized into a Han identity, which over time dramatically expanded the size of the Han population. However, these assimilations...
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