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Geography/China. Major Geographic Features: 1. Surrounded by a variety of natural barriers that has allowed China to be isolated over most of their history. a.The Gobi Desert to the north (cold and dry) b.The Himalayans to the south west c. The Tibetan Plateau to the west

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geography china
  • Major Geographic Features:
  • 1. Surrounded by a variety of natural barriers that has allowed China to be isolated over most of their history.
  • a.The Gobi Desert to the north (cold and dry)
  • b.The Himalayans to the south west
  • c.The Tibetan Plateau to the west
  • d. Rainforests to the south
2. Rivers:
  • a.Huang (Yellow River); the start of China’s first civilizations. Called the yellow river due to the silt carried downstream
  • b.Chang (Yangtze River); the busiest river for trade. Present site of the Three Gorges Dam project to control the flooding.
  • The Grand Canal: Although man made it is one of the most important waterways for trade and irrigation. It links the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.
ancient civilization china
Ancient Civilization/China

Shang Dynasty: 1600 B.C.

Their major contribution was a system of writing.

The Chinese system of writing includes tens of thousands of characters, and is very difficult to learn.

The ancient Chinese system of writing used pictographs, or drawings of objects, and ideographs, lines that represent ideas.

zhou dynasty 1122 256 b c
Zhou Dynasty: 1122-256 B.C.

A revolution started against the Shang leader. They created the Mandate of Heaven as the excuse to overthrow the government.

Mandate of Heaven (Son of Heaven)

The belief that God gave the leader the right to rule, but if the ruler doesn’t do a good job the people can rebel.

How do you know if the Gods don’t want you to rule anymore?
  • If there are problems in the country like famine, plague, and hardship, then the people can rebel.
  • As a result the Zhou had the right to overthrow the government because those problems were happening to the Shang.
  • Achievements
  • First to use Iron
Adopted Confucianism to help unite the country, this Philosophy helped to unite people with a common set of beliefs.
  • Began Feudalism – Helped rule country
  • Feudalism is when land owners are in direct control of their property.
  • The landowners make their own rules and have their own military to enforce rules
  • If society is Feudal it lacks a Central government
  • A lack of central government is a problem, it means that they are not united as one people
qin dynasty 221 206 b c
Qin Dynasty: 221-206 B.C.

unified China for the first time.

Their leader named himself the First Emperor

The Qin are sometimes called the Ch'in, which is probably where the name China originated.

They used many new technologies in warfare, especially cavalry.

The Qin made many changes that were meant to unify China.
  • The empire was divided up in 36 territories which were then subdivided into counties.
  • These territories had a civil governor, a military commander, and an imperial inspector.
He used a Legalist form of government, it involved rewards and punishments to keep order. It was a strict society!!
  • Confucianism was banned! All old writings were destroyed!
  • Also, the state had absolute control over the people, and the nobility lost all of their power.
  • The nobility were also forced from their homes and moved to the capital. (keep your friends close and your enemies closer) and their land was split among the peasants.
He sent spies (inspectors) to check on officials throughout the country.
  • Promoted standardized coins to guarantee that all money in China would be equal, this promoted trade.
  • Built the city of XIAN, it became the wealthiest city in the ancient world, it was the start of the Silk Road. The greatest trade route in the Ancient World.
china s most honourable city ancient xi an
China's Most Honourable City (Ancient Xi'an)
Many public works projects were also undertaken.
  • A Great Wall was built in the north, to protect against invasions. Roads and irrigation canals were built throughout the country.
  • Despite all of these accomplishments, the Emperor was not a popular leader. The public works and taxes were too great a burden to the population.
  • The Qin rule came to an end shortly after the First Emperor's death. He ruled for 37 years, when he died suddenly in 210 B.C. a revolution broke out and his son was kicked out of power.
han dynasty 206 b c 220 a d
Han Dynasty: 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.

Ended Legalism returned to Confucianism

This made the people happy, they were tired of the strict Legalist government.

Began trade with the west to obtain horses, resulted in what was known as the “silk road”

Began “civil service” exams, positions in government are now awarded by merit (people took tests, the highest scores got the jobs) not family status (meaning the rich).

This allowed people from all classes to feel that they had an opportunity for social mobility.

It is one of the greatest achievements in China’s history!!!


This becomes one of the most important reasons for the success of China.

  • Education and schools become part of Chinese culture.
  • It was the only civilization in the Ancient world that placed an importance on education!!!!
  • Invented paper leading to an increase in the vast amount of literature produced during this era.
  • Developed the rudder
  • the creation of the wheelbarrow
  • Stirrups were also believed to have been used first during this time.

The invention of cast iron tools can also be credited to the people of the Han dynasty.

  • This resulted in vastly improved weapons, tools and domestic wares.
  • it paved the way for the creation of new agricultural tools
  • Credited for inventing the loom, set the tone for silk weaving during that era. It was because of their invention that silk could be marketed as an expensive piece of article.
  • Their science of weaving also paved the way for the creation of the Silk Road.
han inventions
Han Inventions
  • Chinese inventions
Fall of Han Dynasty

Wars and large armies put an enormous burden on the economy.

Nomads in the north and near the Korean Peninsula destroyed the Chinese settlements

The land became overpopulated, and thousands were forced into banditry or even selling their children as slaves.

The Huns were one of the groups that attacked China.

Government officials became increasingly corrupt.

sui dynasty 581 619 ad
Sui Dynasty: 581-619 ad.

Officials were chosen on merit rather than by birth, The Emperor held regular examinations to select able people, this ended corruption

In order to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, the Sui used the "land equalization system".

Took land from the wealthy and gave it to the poor.

At the same time, the government unified the coins, took over making money, and standardized weights and measures.

The Sui Dynasty re-established contact with foreign nations by reopening the Silk Road.

t ang dynasty 618 907 ad
T’ang Dynasty: 618-907 ad.
  • Much of their power was made possible through the canals built by the Sui.
  • These canals allowed for communications to all parts of the empire.
  • Also, the granaries the Sui built alongside the canals helped the T’ang to transport goods from the south to the north.
  • This especially was important in the transfer of rice to the north in times of famine.
T’ang Dynasty: 618-907 ad.
  • The T’ang implemented a program where they gave plots of land to the peasant families.
  • This was supposed to be an equal distribution of the land.
  • The T’ang wanted to ensure that the families had enough land to both support themselves and to pay taxes.
  • This was a Golden Age for China
t ang dynasty inventions
T’ang Dynasty:Inventions

the first printer was invented.

fireworks were invented

Ceramics also made a great improvement for storing food and drinks

They traded with, India, the Middle East, and Byzantium.

They improved the compass



The compass

First printer


song dynasty 960 1279 ad
Song Dynasty: 960-1279 ad.

(Neo-Confucianism) a combination of Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism came to dominate the empire during the Song Dynasty

the invention of gunpowder

The world's first Printing with movable type, magnetic compass and calculator (the abacus) were invented.


Starting from the Tang or the beginning of the Song, small packages of gunpowder wrapped in paper or bamboo were attached to arrows, which marked the first use of gunpowder in war (see the illustration at left). These would be lit with a fuse of some kind, intended to set targets afire. 

The Song Dynasty made great contributions to the world. The world's first Printing with movable type, magnetic compass and calculator (the abacus) were invented

magnetic compass

Cotton cultivation spread during the 12th century.

The consumption of tea increased in China and abroad

Ceramics technology became the most advanced in the world

The introduction of the mariner's compass and improvements in shipbuilding helped steady growth in overseas trade with Asia and the Middle East.

foot binding
Foot binding

Probably one of the most detrimental practices was one that women in China performed for nearly one thousand years.

It reflected the role of women in Chinese society and Confucian moral values for women of domesticity, motherhood, and handwork

It was necessary for a woman to have bound feet in order to marry well and achieve a good and moral life.

Mothers bound their daughters’ feet, beginning between about five and seven years of age. All toes except the big toe were folded under the foot and pulled back toward the arch, held in place by a long strip of cloth, creating a steep, concave arch and fold in the center of the sole.

foot binding1
Foot binding
end of the song
End of the Song

the Song were invaded by a massive Mongol horde assembled by Genghis Khan. China was fully conquered by his grandson Kublai Khan in 1279 AD.

kublai khan
Kublai Khan

The Yuan Dynasty lasted from 1279-1368 A.D

 Kublai Khan established his capital at Beijing and built a magnificent palace complex for himself, the Forbidden City

Certain key Chinese innovations,such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards,gun powder and medical literature, were introduced in other areas of the world

The most famous traveler of the period was Marco Polo

The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Road and water communications were reorganized and improved

To provide against possible famines, granaries were ordered built throughout the empire

The Black Death, also known as Bubonic plague, appears to have started in Central Asia in the early 1300's.

it spread to Europe and other parts of the world as a result of Mongol caravan routes from China to the Black Sea

During the Song-Yuan period, the "four great inventions" in science and technology of the Chinese people in ancient times — papermaking, printing, the compass and gunpowder — were further developed, and spread throughout the Mongol Empire

ming dynasty
Ming Dynasty

During the rule of the Ming, China went through a commercial revolution that changed the country and made it a world power during it’s time.

They introduced terrace farming.
  • They also changed the rice they used which allowed them to produce more rice in less time
  • The next thing the Ming did was rebuild the poor navy they had
zheng he
  • An Admiral responsible for the Chinese fleet and the trade throughout the Indian Ocean.
Expeditions sailed to East Asia, Southeast Asia, southern India, Ceylon, the Persian Gulf, and Africa. Reaching these countries made China the world's greatest naval powers in the world at the time, far superior to any European power.
The growth of large cities inspired the growth of industry

In particular, small business grew that specialized in paper, silk, cotton and porcelain goods

A major mistake made in the mid 15th c. was to dismantle their navy

In the mid 1600’s the wonderful Ming dynasty started to decline

There were three major factors that led to the decline of the Ming.

One was weak leaders.

The second factor was rebellion the Ming increased taxes on the common people

The Manchus were the third and final factor that led to the end of the Ming dynasty in 1643 The Q’ing dynasty was established

Zheng He