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Describe China's physical geography and explain how it affects the country's population
distribution and density. (25 marks)
biggest country in the world in terms of land mass, it has the largest
China is the 4th
population of 1.3 billion. The country of China has diverse landscapes from areas of dry
desert to mountains and tropical forest regions. China is a dynamic country with five main
climatic zones ranging from sub artic to tropical. The physical structure of the country
greatly affects the population densities across the country; there is a great distribution
(spread of population) imbalance across China resulting in huge urban populations
predominantly found on the east coast.
China's relief is both complex and variable, ranging from mostly mountains, high plateaux
and desert in the west, to plains, deltas and hills in the east. The Qinling Mountains provide
a natural boundary between north and south China.
The Tibetan Plateau in the west is the source of almost 50% of the major rivers systems in
China, including the three longest rivers; the Yangtze, Huang He (yellow) and Pearl rivers.
These flow from the west to east, into the Pacific Ocean. About 10% of the Chinese systems
drain into the Indian or Arctic Oceans. The remaining 40% have no outlet to the sea, they
drain through dry western and northern areas of China, forming deep underground water
reserves. As a result, most of the population live in the east as mountains and deserts
provide challenging terrain for farming and settlements. However, Three Gorges Dam is a
proposed project for water diversion routes to take Yangtze water to the dryer north east
(completion in 2050). It is planned to have an even bigger dam in the upper Mekong river:
this would cut off some of the water that flows into Laos. Thailand and Viet Nam, with
enormous international and economic consequences.
Although the climate of China lies in the temperate belt, its climate patterns are complex
ranging from subtropical in the south to subarctic in the north. Monsoon dominates the
climate and has a major influence on the timing of the rainy season and the amount of
rainfall. As a result, alternating seasonal airmass movements and accompanying winds can
cause summer floods which disrupt life and cause much damage in the south east. Hot
summer weather is creating a big demand for electricity for refrigeration and air
conditioning. While, the north west is a cold desert region. The south west has a mountain
climate with winter snowfall where they grow rice. Therefore, the south east has the
hardest living conditions.
The distribution of China's rainfall is uneven. South west of China has the highest amount of
rainfall, equating to over 1500 millimetres. This includes the districts of Fujion, Guangdong
and Zhejiang. Whereas, the north east has extreme dry temperatures causing Xinjiang and
Tibet to have desert conditions. This means the rainfall is only around 0 ­ 100 millimetres of
rain. Other areas such as Anhul, Hubei and Llanhing have around 500 ­ 1500 millimetres of
rain a year. Consequently, there is a trend for decreased rainfall in the west and for
increasingly extreme weather conditions in the east, resulting in more drought and floods.
Great emphasis has been put on agricultural production due to the large population of 1.3
billion, but weather, wars, and politics has put strain on agriculture grow. Furthermore,

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China feeds 22 percent of the world population with only seven percent of the planet's
arable land. Land is heavily utilized for agriculture. Vegetables are planted on road
embankments, in traffic triangles and right up the walls of many buildings. Only about 10 to
15 percent of the land in China is good for agriculture which is only in the east regions. For
example, 30 percent is cultivation in Shandong and Jiangsu.…read more


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