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Explain how the following five factors have influenced settlement and the economies of major East Asian countries

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Wu River, China
Wu River, China

A. absolute and relative locations
B. climate
C. major physical characteristics
D. major natural resources
E. population size

game_icon.svg.pngThe China Game from the Asia Society explores Chinese history, culture and geography.

See the following for a 2014 infographic on China's Energy Vulnerabilities from the Brookings Institute


- absolute and relative locations: absolute location is the coordinates of a place on longitude and latitude; relative location is where a place is in comparison with: landmarks, or other places.

- climate: repeated weather patterns in a certain location

- major physical characteristics: features of the terrain, like mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts…etc.

- major natural resources: parts of nature used by people, such as water, oil, trees, minerals, etc.

- population size: how many people live in a place.
the top 5 most populated nations are 1. China, 2. India, 3. United States, 4. Indonesia 5. Brazil
Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest in the world.  Photo on Wikimedia Commons by reinhard_paulus
Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest in the world. Photo on Wikimedia Commons by reinhard_paulus

Go here for Countries of North and East Asia (capital city)

*Taiwan claims to be an independent country; China claims Taiwan as a breakaway province under Chinese rule.

external image Red_apple.jpgEast Asia in Geographic Perspective, a lesson plan hosted by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, explores human interaction with natural resources relating to trade by examining the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, originally built in the 19th century.

Click here for an overview of the geography of China from A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization.

external image Agregateur_Poietique.gifSee WHI.23 for information on Chinese history before the 19th Century.

Maps of North and East Asia:

Political boundaries:


Influence of the following five factors on SETTLEMENTS and ECONOMIES of Asian countries:

Absolute and relative locations
  • Japan's cultural heritage comes from China through Korea, so the relative location of the three nations is vital to their settlement and economies, both historically and currently
  • Mongolia, in its relative location between Russia and China
    • It a mix of the two nations culturally and politically; socially it is Asian, politically it is more Soviet-Russian.

  • the climate in the more southerly parts of this region is conducive to growing rice, a major food staple and basis of the economy
  • aside from that, however, the climate of East Asia is highly varied - from icy terrain in norther Russia to the tropical climate of Taiwan and the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa - people have settled throughout the region.

Major physical characteristics
  • Japan is very mountainous, its most famous mountain is Mont Fuji
  • China and Mongolia are linked in part by the Gobi Desert
  • the Korean peninsula has extensive coastlines
  • Russia is so large that it reaches furthest west in this region
    • has an ongoing land dispute with Japan over islands just north of Japan
    • also reaches far into Europe thousands of miles to the west.

Major natural resources
  • All of these nations have such ancient civilizations that they have been incorporating their natural resources into their economies for trade and domestic use for thousands of years.
  • China's resources include coal, oil, and mined metals
  • Japan has salt, oceans and fish, and highly fertile soil
  • South Korea has oceans and fish, natural gas, oil.

Population size
  • two of the world's most populous nations (#1 and #2) are China and India.
  • Through trade and also use of natural resources, the economies of Asia, especially norther Asia, are almost all strong and growing, along with the region's population.

Population (2012 estimates)
1.351 billion
1.237 billion
143.5 million
127.6 million
South Korea
50 million
North Korea
24.76 million
23.34 million
2.796 million


  • What is a “major” country? Do you think that people in smaller nations do not consider themselves to be “major”? Who decides which countries are major or minor? Can you think of examples of major or minor countries? What events might change our perception of a nation?

  • What is the difference between a “nation” and a “country”?

  • Besides North America, which continent do you know the most about? Why?

  • Why do you live where you live? (When did your family come to the U.S.? Where did they go first? Why? How did your immediate family get here to this town? Why did you come here?)

Relative and absolute location

List of most populous countries and their populations as of mid-2006

Geography quiz! All of Asia…

Buckets of geography quizzes! Enjoy…

country information, maps, and flags

maps (public source)

Oxford Atlas of the World, Twelfth Edition, 2005; Oxford University Press, New York.

De Blij, H.J.; Peter O. Muller; Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts (Seventh Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994 //