River Valley Civilization in China Global History and Geography I name

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River Valley Civilization in China

Global History and Geography I Name: ___________________

E. Napp Date: ___________________
People have lived in China for thousands of years. In ancient times, China’s geography isolated or kept the Chinese away from other peoples. The Gobi desert lies in the north of China. The Tibetan mountain plateau stretches toward the west and the mighty Himalayas rise in the southwest. Seas protect China on its eastern and southern coasts. While China’s mountains and deserts have isolated it and made farming difficult especially in the west, there are many rivers in eastern China. The Huang He or Yellow River flows 3,000 miles across northern China. Because the river is shallow, it often floods. Throughout the years, flooding has destroyed cities and farms. Hunger, disease, and death follow. The Chinese sometimes refer to the Huang He as “China’s Sorrow.” The Yangtze River is China’s longest river. It is very deep. In fact, it is the deepest river in the world. The Yangtze flows through southern China. It has been one of China’s main trade routes since ancient times. Due to its rivers, farming began in China more than 8,000 years ago. Farm villages eventually grew into cities. The first Chinese cities began near the Huang He or Yellow River about 2000 B.C. The Huang He River Valley was a birthplace of civilization in China.

Geographic Features of China:

Geographic Effects on China:




Seas Bordering the Eastern Coast

China’s geography isolated China in the past. Due to this isolation, ethnocentrism developed. Ethnocentrism is the belief in a culture’s superiority. The ancient Chinese believed their culture was superior.

Why might isolationism lead to ethnocentrism? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

China’s first civilization emerged along the Huang He or Yellow River. Around 1500 B.C., people from the Huang He migrated southward to the Yangtze River, where they learned to grow rice and irrigate the land. Rice cultivation soon became common along the Huang He. The farming of soybeans and the raising of pigs, chickens, and dogs was also introduced. Around 1760 B.C., a ruling family or dynasty known as the Shang took control of the region. Shang warriors used bronze weapons and horse-drawn chariots. The Shang built the first known Chinese cities. Each city had several large public buildings at its center, where the nobles lived. Potters, bronze smiths, and other artisans lived just outside the city. The ancient Chinese became skilled in many crafts, such as making objects out of bronze. They also developed the ability to make silk from a silkworm’s cocoon. The Chinese system of writing was based on pictographs, like that of ancient Egypt. Each character represented a different word.

  • Where did China’s earliest cities develop? _____________________________________________________

List three important facts about China’s First Dynasty:

Why do the Chinese call the Yellow River “China’s Sorrow”? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

No river flows from south to north in China. The Chinese rulers built a 1,100 mile canal or waterway. It joined the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. The Chinese transported supplies on the canal. The Chinese rulers began construction of the canal about 2,400 years ago. The Chinese also started work on the Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago. The Great Wall eventually stretched nearly 1,400 miles from the Yellow Sea westward. In some places, it stood 40 to 50 feet high. Its base was 15 to 30 feet thick. Workers build towers along the wall. From the towers, guards looked far to the north and to the west. The Great Wall of China was built to protect China from invaders. An ancient Chinese historian says 300,000 workers built the Great Wall of China. Others believe that 1 million people worked on it and 400,000 of them died while building the wall. Some people refer to the wall as the “Great Graveyard of China” because the bodies of dead workers were often thrown into the wall!

Why did the Chinese build a Grand Canal? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Why did the Chinese build the Great Wall of China?

List three facts about the Great Wall of China:

  • __________________________________________________

  • __________________________________________________

  • __________________________________________________

China had many dynasties.

Define dynasty: ______________________________________

Name China’s first dynasty: ____________________________

Word Bank:
Mountains, Great Wall, Dynasty, Isolation, Huang He, Agriculture, Shang, Characters, Yangtze, Grand Canal, Flooding

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