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Natural Regions, North China

Mongolian Steppe, Shandong Peninsula, Yangtze River Basin, Loess Plateau, Coniferous forests

North China lies between the Mongolian Steppe on the north and the Yangtze River Basin on the south. It stretches west from the Bo Hai gulf and the Yellow Sea to the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Administratively, North China includes Beijing and Tianjin municipalities; Shandong and Shanxi provinces; most of Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces; and portions of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Gansu provinces.

Humans have lived in the agriculturally rich region of North China for thousands of years and have greatly impacted the landscape, which has been extensively terraced and cultivated. Both human impact and erosion can be seen on the Huangtu Gaoyuan (Loess Plateau) in the northwest. Formed by the accumulation of fine windblown silt known as loess, this once level plateau has become cut by vertical-walled valleys, numerous gullies, and sunken roads. East of the Huangtu Gaoyuan are northeast-trending mountain ranges with elevations of about 1,000 m (about 3,000 ft). The Great Wall lies on the northern ridges of these mountains and marks the region’s traditional northern border. South and east of the mountains lies the Huabei Pingyuan (North China Plain), the largest flat lowland area in China. To the east is the Shandong Plateau on the Shandong Peninsula, consisting of two distinct areas of mountains flanked by rolling hills. The rocky coast of the peninsula provides some good natural harbors.

Fertile soils derived from loess cover the Huabei Pingyuan, which contains almost no native vegetation, having been cleared for cultivation centuries ago. Level basins between the mountains have also been converted for agricultural purposes. However, where humans have not cleared the land for agriculture or development, forests of mostly deciduous trees can be found. Coniferous forests thrive at higher elevations, and mountaintops have shrubby alpine meadows. North China contains the country’s main coal reserves, and important petroleum deposits lie offshore in the Bo Hai gulf.

Article key phrases:

Mongolian Steppe, Shandong Peninsula, Yangtze River Basin, Loess Plateau, Coniferous forests, Yellow Sea, rocky coast, deciduous trees, Great Wall, human impact, eastern edge, loess, Fertile soils, Anhui, Hebei, North China, higher elevations, Shandong, Jiangsu, native vegetation, erosion, Beijing, elevations, mountains, northwest, hills, agriculture, landscape, land, thousands of years, development, Humans


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