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Natural Environment

Terrain and Topography
Terrain and Topography

China's terrain is high in the west and low in the east. Mountainous areas, plateaus and hills account for around 67% of the country's land area, with basins and flatlands accounting for around 33%. Mountain ranges mainly run in the east to west, or northeast to southwest direction, with main ranges including the Altai Mountains, Tianshan Mountains, the Kunlun Mountains, Karakoram, Himalayas, the Yinshan Mountains, the Qinling Mountains, the Nanling Mountains, Greater Khingan Range, the Changbai Mountains, the Taihang Mountains, the Wuyi Mountains and the Hengduan Mountains. In the west there is the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the highest area in the world with an average altitude of over 4,000 meters and is known as "the roof of the world". Mount Qomolangma is the highest peak in the world with an altitude of 8,844.43 meters. To the north and east of Mount Qomolangma lies Inner Mongolia, the Xinjiang region, the Loess Plateau, Sichuan Basin and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, which make up the second step of China's terrain. The line of Greater Khingan Range-Taihang Mountains-Wushan Mountains-Wuling Mountains-Xuefeng Mountains that runs east to the coastline is mainly flatlands and hills. All this makes up the third step of China's terrain. The continental shelf to the southeast of the coastline is rich in seabed resources.

Climate
Climate

China's climate is marked by high temperatures and rainfall in summer, and low temperatures and rainfall in winter, with a high-temperature period coinciding with a rainy period to form a monsoon climate. As China lies in the east of the world's largest landmass, Eurasia, and is on the western shores of the world's largest sea, the Pacific Ocean, and close to the Indian Ocean to the southwest, the country's climate is heavily influenced by continental and oceanic factors. During winter a prevailing northerly wind blows from the mainland out to sea, while during summer a prevailing southerly wind blows in the opposite direction. The winter wind forms on the Asian mainland and is cold and dry. This leads to little rain and low temperatures during winter across the Chinese mainland. The summer wind comes from the Pacific Ocean in the southeast and the Indian Ocean in the southwest, and is warm and moist. This leads to heavy rains and a hot rainy season. A broad area is affected by the shift from winter to summer winds, forming a region that has the most typical and prominent example of a monsoon climate in the world. Compared with other areas in the world at similar latitude, temperatures in winter are relatively cold and temperatures in summer are relatively high, with a large annual temperature range and rainfall being concentrated in the summer. These climatic characteristics mean that China has a strong continental monsoon climate.

Rivers and Lakes
Rivers and Lakes

China has many rivers and lakes that are not just an important part of the country's geographical conditions, but also house a rich array of natural resources. The number of rivers in China is amongst the highest in the world, with many of them large and with a long history. Of them, over 1,500 have drainage areas exceeding 1,000 square kilometers. There are over 24,800 lakes in China, of which there are more than 2,800 natural lakes with a surface area of over 1 square kilometer. In the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River are located a cluster of China's largest freshwater lakes, including Dongting Lake, Taihu Lake and Poyang Lake. There is a concentration of lakes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the west, the majority of which are inland saltwater lakes such as Qinghai Lake and Namtso.

Flora and Fauna
Flora and Fauna

China is home to one of the world's most abundant resources of animals. According to statistics, there are around 2,070 species of terrestrial vertebrates throughout the country, accounting for 9.8% of terrestrial vertebrates worldwide. Among these are over 1,170 species of bird, over 400 mammals and 184 amphibians, which accounts for 13.5%, 11.3% and 7.3% respectively of these categories worldwide. China's territory is vast, with complex terrain, a diverse climate and rich vegetation. According to statistics, there are 300 families of seed plants in China, with a further 2,980 genera and 24,600 species. There are 2,946 genera of flowering plants (accounting for 23.6% of flowering plants worldwide). Relatively ancient plant life in the country accounts for around 62% of that in the world. Species such as dawn redwood and ginkgo, that have become extinct in other areas of the world, remain as "living fossils" in China. There are many more seed plant species that grow in China's cold, moist and hot climates than there are in the whole of Europe, making China one of the richest homes of plant resources in the world.