Overview: China is a country with many landforms and climate zones. Between the Himalaya and Kunlun Shan lies the world's largest plateau—the Plateau of Tibet. The Taklimakan and Gobi are harsh deserts. The major rivers—the Yangtze, the Yellow, and the Xi-flow through the plains and highlands of eastern China.
In 1949 China became a communist state. In recent years, government leaders have allowed some features of the free enterprise system to develop in China, which has resulted in rapid economic growth. The cities of Hong Kong and Macau are an important part of the economic changes taking place in China.
China has the world's largest population and one of the world's oldest civilizations. As their civilization developed, the Chinese tried to keep out foreign invaders. One way they did this was by building the Great Wall of China. The ancient teachings of Kongfuzi, Daoism, and Buddhism still influence the people of China today.
Taiwan is an island close to China's mainland. After their defeat by the Communists in 1949, one million Chinese refugees fled to Taiwan and established a democracy. Today Taiwan has one of the world's most prosperous economies, largely because of its high-technology industries. Landlocked Mongolia, located to the north of China, has rugged terrain and a harsh landscape. Its people are famous for their skills in raising and riding horses.