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Physical Geography of East Asia:
A Rugged Terrain
The mountainous
landscape, open
ocean, and harsh
climate of East Asia
isolate the region
and present
challenges for the
people living there.
Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
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Physical Geography of East Asia:
A Rugged Terrain
SECTION 1
Landforms and Resources
SECTION 2
Climate and Vegetation
SECTION 3
Human-Environment Interaction
Unit Atlas: Physical
Unit Atlas: Political
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Section 1
Landforms and
Resources
• East Asia has a huge mainland area that
includes rugged terrain.
• East Asia has a number of important islands
off its eastern coast.
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SECTION
1
Landforms and Resources
Landforms: Mountains and Plateaus
A Survey of the Region
• East Asia stretches from western China to the east
coast of Japan
- also includes Mongolia, Taiwan, North Korea,
South Korea
• Landscape has high mountains, deserts, cold
climate, Pacific waters
• Rugged terrain created by tectonic plates colliding
- natural barriers limit human movement, increase
isolation
Continued . . .
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SECTION
1
continued Landforms:
Mountains and Plateaus
Mountain Ranges of the Region
Map
• High mountains limited China’s contact with rest of
Asia
- world’s highest mountains located on western
edge of region
• Kunlun Mountains are located in west China
- source of Huang He (Yellow) and Chang Jiang
(Yangtze) rivers
• Qinling Shandi Mountains separate the cultures of
northern and southern China
Continued . . .
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SECTION
1
continued Peninsulas
and Islands
The Islands of East Asia
• East of China is continental shelf— the submerged
border of continent
• Isolation of shelf islands allows them to develop in
peace, security
• Chinese islands include Hainan and part of Hong
Kong
- Hong Kong was Britain’s; returned to China’s
control in 1997
• Japan is a small island nation with large economic
power
• Taiwan once belonged to mainland China, which still
claims it today
Chart
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SECTION
1
River Systems
The Huang He
• Huang He (Yellow River)—northern China river
- starts in Kunlun Mountains in west, winds east for
3,000 miles
- empties into Yellow Sea, named for yellow silt the
river carries
The Chang Jiang
• Chang Jiang (Yangtze River)—longest river in Asia
- flows 3,900 miles from Xizang (Tibet) to East
China Sea
- major trade route; floods often causing great
damage
Deadly Gifts
•While their resources help with the economy, they
are also responsible for some of the deadliest
floods in history.
Image
SECTION
1
continued River
Systems
The Xi Jiang
• Xi Jiang (West River) flows southeast through south
China
- joins Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) to flow into South
China Sea
- Xi Jiang, three other rivers form estuary between
Hong Kong, Macao
Other Rivers of the Region
• Yalu Jiang river flows 500 miles along North Korea,
China border
- Chinese troops cross it in 1950
- attack UN forces, enter Korean War
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SECTION
1
Resources of East Asia
Uneven Distribution
• China, Mongolia, North Korea have natural, mineral
resources
• Japan, South Korea, Taiwan have limited natural
resources
Interactive
Land and Forests
• Limited farmland in sparsely populated,
mountainous, western areas
• Most Chinese are in fertile eastern river basins
where rice is grown
• Abundant forests in China, Japan, Taiwan, North and
South Korea
- Japan reserves forests by buying timber from
Continued . . .
other regions
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SECTION
1
continued Resources
of East Asia
Water Resources
• China’s long river systems are important to its
economy
- provide crop irrigation, hydroelectric power,
transportation
- Three Gorges Dam on Chang Jiang will control
floods, create power
- Huang He and Xi Jiang provide hydroelectric
power, transportation
• Sea is important food source for East Asia
- Japan has one of world’s largest fishing industries
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Section 2
Climate and Vegetation
• East Asia has a dry highland climate in the
west.
• The region has a humid climate in the east.
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SECTION
2
Dry Zones
Semiarid
• Includes parts of Mongolian Plateau
• Vegetation is mostly short grasses, food for grazing
animals
Desert
• Most of region’s deserts are in west central mainland
• Taklimakan Desert—in west China, between Tian
Shan, Kunlun mountains
• Gobi Desert—in north China, southeast Mongolia
- prime area for dinosaur fossils
Image
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SECTION
2
Tropical Zones
Tropical Wet
• Typhoon— tropical storm that occurs in western
Pacific
• Tropical climate zone in East Asia is small
- strip of land along China’s southeastern coast
- island of Hainan, southern tip of Taiwan
• High temperatures, heavy rainfall, high humidity all
year
• Tropical rain forest has tall, dense forests of
broadleaf trees
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Section 3
Human-Environment
Interaction
• The Chinese are building the Three Gorges
Dam to control flooding.
• The Japanese have developed creative
ways to use their limited amounts of land.
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SECTION
3
Human-Environment Interaction
The Three Gorges Dam
An Engineering Feat
• In 1993, China began construction of the Three
Gorges Dam
- being built on China’s Chang Jiang river
- should reduce flooding, generate power, make it
easier to ship goods
• China’s largest construction project will be world’s
biggest dam
- will be 600 feet high, spanning a mile-wide valley
- will create 400-mile-long reservoir, covering 1,000
towns
Image
Continued . . .
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continued The
Three Gorges Dam
Negative Effects
• Most observers feel dam will also have negative
effects
- negative environmental impact may outweigh any
benefits
• One to two million people had to move
- hundreds of historical sites, scenic spots
submerged
• Dam could cost $75 billion rather than original $11
billion estimate
- costs scare away many potential investors
Continued . . .
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continued The
Three Gorges Dam
Negative Effects
• In building dam, government has not protected the
environment
• New reservoir will flood land, reduce animal habitats
- submerged factories could leak chemicals into
water
- region’s climate, temperature will be affected
- some species (alligator, river dolphin, others) may
vanish
• International groups slow to invest due to
environmental concerns
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SECTION
3
Use of Space in Urban Japan
Crowded Living and Working Spaces
• 60% of 127 million people live on 3% of land along
coastal plains
- 80% live in largest cities: Tokyo, Yokohama,
Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo
- 25 million in Tokyo, one of world’s largest
cities
• Cities poisoned with mercury, PCBs —factory
pollutants—in 1950s, ’60s
- PCBs build up in animal tissue; cause disease,
birth defects
- PCBs banned in 1977
Continued . . .
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SECTION
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continued Use
of Space in Urban Japan
Adapting to Limited Space
• Houses are small, sparsely furnished
• Many in cities live in apartments
- family of four in a one-bedroom apartment is
common
• Some move to suburbs, but must commute several
hours to work
• Coastal cities reclaim land with landfill
- landfill is solid waste buried in layers of dirt
- Done in order to increase amount of land suitable
for building
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