Geography had a huge impact on the development of culture in China. China has many geographical features throughout this very large country. There are grasslands, mountains, deserts, and forests. The mountains and deserts served as barriers to cultural development. These areas were often sparsely populated. Life was very isolated and difficult in these regions. In these regions, people lived a nomadic lifestyle. From these mountainous and desert regions, a powerful empire, the Mongol empire, developed. They were able to successfully operate in these regions. The invasions by the Mongols in northern China led to the building of the Great Wall of China. In the eastern part of China where the grasslands existed, people were able to establish permanent settlements and develop civilizations. The rivers found in China also affected the cultural development. Many civilizations developed along these rivers. People used the rivers for transportation and trade. Because of the varied geographical features, societies based on raising cattle and sheep developed. Additionally, fishing based societies formed. As a result of the varied geographical features, China developed many new ideas in science and technology. These included improvements in silk, paper, and porcelain. Inventions included the compass, the abacas, gunpowder, and a way to produce cast iron. The varied geographic features within China significantly impacted the country.