Geography played a major role in the development of Chinese civilization. China covers an area of nearly 4 million square miles. One of the physical barriers that separates China from its neighbors is a harsh desert, the Gobi which is spread over much of China’s north. East of the Gobi are low-lying plains which cover most of eastern China forms once of the country’s largest farming regions. More than 2,000 mile to the west, rigged mountains make up the western frontier, in the southwest the plateau of Tibet. The Qinling Shandi range separates northern China from southern China.