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How did China’s geography both help and hinder China’s development as a country?

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Questions like this cannot be answered definitively.  We cannot go back and rerun China’s history, giving it different geography, to see what happens.  Instead, we can only speculate.  One famous speculation about the impact of China’s geography comes from Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Diamond says that China’s geography initially helped the country.  He says (on p. 414) that China’s heartland did not have many barriers to break it up.  Its two major river valleys were easily connected.  This allowed the civilization of...

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