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Land Area
Located in the east on the Asian continent on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, the People's Republic of China has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km, and is the third-largest country in the world, next only to Russia and Canada.

From north to south, the territory of China stretches from the center of the Heilong River north of the town of Mohe to the Zengmu Reef at the southernmost tip of the Nansha Islands, covering a distance of 5,500 km. From east to west, the nation extends from the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli rivers to the Pamirs, covering a distance of 5,200 km. Western China landscape
With a land boundary of some 22,800 km, China is bordered by Korea to the east; Mongolia to the north; Russia to the northeast; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the northwest; Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan to the west and southwest; and Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the south. Across the seas to the east and southeast are the Republic of Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

China's mainland coastline measures approximately 18,000 km, with a flat topography, and many excellent docks and harbors, most of which are ice-free all year round. The Chinese mainland is flanked to the east and south by the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China seas, with a total maritime area of 4.73 million sq km. The Bohai Sea is China's continental sea, while the Yellow, East China and South China seas are marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean.

Some 5,400 islands dot China's territorial seas. The largest of these, with an area of about 36,000 sq km, is Taiwan, followed by Hainan with an area of 34,000 sq km. The Diaoyu and Chiwei islands, located to the northeast of Taiwan Island, are China's easternmost islands. The many islands, islets, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, known collectively as the South China Sea Islands, are the southernmost island group of China. They are called the Dongsha (East Sandbar), Xisha (West Sandbar), Zhongsha (Middle Sandbar) and Nansha (South Sandbar) island groups according to their geographical locations.
Physical Features
Qinghai, ChinaChina's topography was formed around the emergence of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau created millions of years ago in the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau rose continuously to become the "roof of the world," averaging more than 4,000 m above sea level. The terrain in China then gradually descends from west to east like a staircase. The second step of the staircase includes the gently sloping Inner Mongolia Plateau, the Loess Plateau, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the Tarim Basin, the Junggar Basin and the Sichuan Basin, with an average elevation of between 1,000 m and 2,000 m. The third step, dropping to 500-1,000 m in elevation, begins at a line drawn around the Greater Hinggan, Taihang, Wushan and Xuefeng mountain ranges and extends eastward to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Here, from north to south, are the Northeast Plain, the North China Plain and the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain. Interspersed among the plains are hills and foothills. To the east is the fourth step of the staircase, land that consists of the vast continental shelf formed by the shallows together with the islands on the rim of the mainland.


Protected deer, ChinaChina lies mainly in the north temperate zone, characterized by a warm climate and distinctive seasons, a climate well suited for habitation. Most of China has a continental monsoon climate. From September to April the following year, dry and cold winter monsoons blow from Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau, resulting in cold and dry winters and great differences in the temperatures of north and south China. From April to September, warm and humid summer monsoons blow from the seas in the east and south, resulting in overall high temperatures and plentiful rainfall, and little differences in the temperatures of north and south China. In terms of temperature, the nation can be sectored from south to north into equatorial, tropical, subtropical, warm-temperate, temperate, and cold-temperate zones. Precipitation gradually declines from the southeastern to the northwestern inland area, and the average annual precipitation varies greatly from place to place. In southeastern coastal areas, it reaches over 1,500 mm, while in northwestern areas, it drops to below 200 mm.

Temperature Conversion
To convert Fahrenheit into Celsius, subtract 32, multiply by 5, and divide by 9.
To convert Celsius into Fahrenheit, multiply by 9, divide by 5 and add 32.

Nature Reserves

Inner Mongolia, N.E. ChinaChina's first nature reserve was the Dinghu Mountain Nature Reserve in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province established in 1956. By the end of 2003, some 1,551 nature reserves of various kinds have been set up throughout the country, covering a total area of 144.72 million hectares, and accounting for 14.4 percent of the total land territory. Protected through these nature reserves are 88 percent of the land eco-system types, 87 percent of the wildlife populations, 65 percent of the higher plant communities, nearly 20 percent of the natural forests, 50 percent of the marshland and wetland of the country, main habitats of more than 300 precious and endangered species of wild animals, and major areas where more than 130 precious varieties of trees are found.

The Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve is China's largest (covering a total area of 316,000 sq km), highest (averagely at over 4,000 meters above sea level) nature reserve with the most concentrated biodiversity. Established in August 2000, it is located in the central area of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at the source of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. A total investment of 220 million yuan in the Sanjiangyuan protection project has been made by the state. Yunnan Province has 157 nature reserves, the most in the country, covering a total area of 2.99 million ha. Twenty-two of China's nature reserves have been designated by UNESCO as "World Biosphere Reserves" with the most recent additions in 2003 of Wudalianchi, a site of mineral springs, caves and volcanoes about an hour north of Harbin in Heilongjiang Province, and Yading, an area of high snowy mountains and pastures considered an epicenter of biodiversity within the new Three Parallel Rivers National Park and World Heritage Site in western Sichuan Province.

China's Geological Parks Yunnan, China

Today China has 44 national geological parks, thanks to a pilot program begun in 1999 by the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources in cooperation with UNESCO to find a way to protect geological sites of importance while encouraging both tourism and scientific research. Zhangjiajie Gritstone-peak Forest, China's best preserved cluster of volcanoes and geological features in northeast Heilongjiang Province, in 2001 became among the first nationally designated geological parks. In February 2004, UNESCO announced the World Network of Geological Parks as well as its first geology park conference to be held in Beijing from June 27-29, 2004. Of the 28 UNESCO world geoparks, eight are in China. They include:

— Shilin Geopark in China's Yunnan Province, featuring a carbonate peak forest landform, which brings about the formation of various karst landscapes, such as stone teeth, corroded gullies and corroded funnels.

— Huangshan Geopark in Anhui Province, famed for its grand and steep mountains, with 72 peaks of over 1,000 meters high. The geopark is picturesque with green and straight pines, jagged rocks of grotesque shapes, wide and imposing cloud sea, as well as many gushing warm springs.

The other six world-class Chinese geology parks are Lushan Geopark in Jiangxi Province, Yuntaishan Geopark and Songshan Geopark in central China's Henan Province, Danxia Geopark in Guangdong, Zhangjiajie Geopark in Hunan, and Wudalianchi Geopark in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.


UNESCO World Heritage List of Natural Sites in China

With outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty



Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan



Mount Wuyi

Natural & Cultural


Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha

Natural & Cultural


Wulingyuan Scenic Area  



Scenic Wonders of Huanglong Scenic Area



Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area



Mount Huangshan

 Natural & Cultural


Mount Taishan

Natural & Cultural


Plants and Animals

Among those countries with the greatest diversity of wildlife, China has more than 6,266 species of vertebrates, 10 percent of the world's total. Among them 2,404 are terrestrials and 3,862 fishes. More than 100 species of wild animals can be found only in China, including such rare animals as the giant panda, the snub-nosed monkey, the golden-haired monkey, South China tiger, brown-eared pheasant, red-crowned crane, red ibis, white-flag dolphin and Chinese alligator. The giant panda, which makes its home in the forests of the Upper Yangtze River in southwest China, weighs on average 135 kg and lives on tender bamboo leaves and bamboo shoots. Because it is extremely rare - just over 1,000 are left at present - the giant panda has become the symbol of the world's protected wild animals.

Rare plants, ChinaChina's abundance of plant life ranks it among the top in the world. For example, with an area almost exactly that of the continental United States, China has nearly twice as many plant species, about 32,000 (compared to 17,000 for the U.S. and Canada combined) or one-eighth of the world's total. China's plant species include almost all the major plants that grow in the northern hemisphere's frigid, temperate and tropical zones. In addition, China has more than 7,000 species of woody plants, including 2,800-odd tree species. Found only in China are the metasequoia, Chinese cypress, Cathay silver fir, China fir, golden larch, Taiwan fir, Fujian cypress, dove-tree, eucommia and camplotheca acuminata. The metasequoia, a tall species of arbor, is considered to be one of the oldest and rarest plants in the world. The golden larch, one of only five species of rare garden trees in the world, grows in the mountainous areas in the Yangtze River Valley. Its coin-shaped leaves on short branches are green in spring and summer, turning yellow in autumn. China is home to more than 2,000 species of edible plants and over 3,000 species of medicinal plants. Ginseng from the Changbai Mountains, safflowers from Tibet, Chinese wolfberry from Ningxia and notoginseng from Yunnan and Guizhou are particularly well-known Chinese herbal medicines. China has a wide variety of flowering plants, including the world-renowned peony that is indigenous to China and considered one of the country's national flowers.


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