Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Understanding the Geography of China

An Assemblage of Pieces

Just as the physical environment shape human societies, human settlements have changed the natural landscape. Photo: mote/flickr.

Just as the physical environment shape human societies, human settlements have changed the natural landscape. Photo: mote/flickr.

An Assemblage of Pieces

The Yangzi Valley
Physical characteristics: Separated from other regions by mountains and extensive wetlands is the Yangzi (Yangtze or Changjiang-"long river"); its tributaries and lakes are the focus of life and economics in the valley. Summers tend to be hot, humid, and rainy along the river, while winters are brief but cold.

History: The Yangzi Valley has traditionally been an important food producer. The river has been the center of economic life, bringing trade and influences from distant places. During the twentieth century, initiatives to dam the Yangzi have brought about drastic changes in the landscape, economy, and lives of the people living in the Yangzi Valley, forcing many to relocate.

Economic activities and resources today: Fishing and boat commerce dominate life and culture. Cities, such as Chongqing (in Sichuan province), Wuhan, and Nanjiang, are driven by economies tied to water-borne transportation and commerce-not agriculture or even food processing. Major manufacturing centers exist along the river because it is a cheap means of transport. There are large numbers of people who spend their entire lives on small or medium boats, making a living moving goods and people via the numerous lakes, canals, and rivers of the entire Yangzi valley.

Housing: white-plastered, multistoried houses with black tiled roofs, houseboats, apartments in cities
Social organization: commercial/trade "families"
Transportation: river and canal boats, trucks, cars, bicycles in cities
Food staples: rice and fish