THE CHINESE REGION 667. Bounds and character.—The region called the Chinese region takes in nearly all the provinces that are often called China Proper. It lies between the Central Asian plateau, the Manchurian Region, and the sea. Look at the map (Fig. 474), and describe briefly the physical features of the region.
668. Comparison with the eastern United States.—The Chinese Region and that part of the United States east of the Mississippi River are about equal in size, and each occupies the southeast corner of its continent. They are in about the same latitude and can produce very much the same crops, because the climate in the two regions is quite similar. The chief difference in climate is the greater summer rain of southern and eastern China, brought by the monsoon (Sec. 646). The monsoon sometimes causes sorrow in China by bringing so much rain that floods drown people by the thousand. Sometimes the monsoon comes too late or does not come at all, and then the crops fail and people starve.
The greatest difference between the Chi nese Region and the eastern United States is in the number of people. One has 70,000, 000 people, the other has 300,000,000 people who live in a region that has more high mountains than has the eastern part of the United States.
Much of the coast plain of the United States is sandy and little used. The wide coast plain of China is very rich delta land of clay and mud, and every foot of it is used. It supports swarms of people, who live as the Japanese lived before they began to develop their for eign trade. Most of China's people live on their little farms, and often they travel about the coast-plain coun try in canal boats.
The great river of Amer ica, the Mississippi, flows south through large areas of unused swamp. The Yangtze, the great river of China, flows east in the same latitude as Charleston, South Carolina. Along this river there were swamps, which centuries ago were turned into rice fields. The Yangtze itself has for ages been a great highway. Thousands of sailboats and steamboats carry freight up and down the river. 669. The oldest nation on earth.—The Chinese have light yellow skin, almond-shaped, slanting eyes, and stiff black hair, which was formerly braided into a long "pig-tail". They have been
civilized longer than any other race. When Solomon built his temple in Jeru salem, the Chinese had been a civilized nation for many centuries. The various nations of Europe came into being, and still China remained as in past centuries. Greece rose and fell,' Rome rose and fell, and China still lived. Why? Because the country was good for agriculture, and was pro tected by nature from invaders. The waves of migrating people who broke up the Roman Empire did not reach China, because there were high mountains, plateaus, and deserts to the west of China. On the east was the wide empty sea. On the south the tropic forest reared its jungle wall and on the south west were high moun tains, sharp valleys. and deep rivers, and yet more high mountains, sharp valleys, and deep rivers. In the winter the mountains are covered with snow, and in the summer the valleys are flooded with monsoon rain. Surely nature gave China an almost perfect barrier! Only in the north could large bodies of people with horses, flocks, and herds cross into China, and there the Chinese built the Great Wall to keep invaders out. Read about it in some encyclopedia. Such invaders as did occa sionally enter by this northern route could not seriously disturb the Chinese farmer nation.
670. An isolated, independent people.— Thus for century after century the Chinese had nothing to do with the people of any other country, and wanted only to be let alone. They could live thus isolated, because they had at home everything a nation needed. China reaches from Peking, in the latitude of the land of wheat, corn, and barley in the United States, down to Hongkong, in the latitude of Havana, the land of oranges, bananas, and sugar cane. In the west are mountains rich in minerals, and the nomad's country, where wool and hides are pro duced. The different parts of China traded with each other by means of junks (sailing vessels) that went up and down the coast, by boats on many canals and rivers, and by caravans over hills and high mountains and swift streams.