China: A Geographical Sketch

China consists mostly of mountains, high plateaus, and deserts in the west, and flattens out into plains, deltas, and hills towards the east. Only 10 percent of the land is arable and the majority of the population lives on the eastern half of the country. The vast deserts and parts of the mountainous west are uninhabited.

Two great rivers, the Yellow River in the north and the Yangtze Kiang in the south, flow through eastern China into the Pacific. The eastern coast faces the Yellow Sea to the northeast, the East China Sea to the east, the South China Sea to the southeast, and the Gulf of Tonkin to the south. To the north, China shares a border with Russia, Mongolia, and North Korea. Along China’s western border, its neighbors are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, while along the south, the bordering countries are India, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, and Macau. China is the world’s third largest country after Russia and Canada; its total area is 9,596,960 square kilometers.

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