The Huang He River
There were many things to consider when living in ancient
China. The choice of a place to settle was crucial. Many people
chose to live near the Huang He River. The river was full of yellow
loess. The Huang He River Valley was known for its rich agriculture.
It was also known for its devastating floods.
When people began farming in China most of them settled
in the Huang He River Valley. The valley is located on the North China
Plain in Inner China. The latitude of the Huang He River Valley is
approximately between 115 and 119 degrees east. The longitude of the
valley is roughly between 35 and 38 degrees north. The Huang He Valley
was safe to live in because "the mountains and deserts in the east were almost
impassable and the mountains and rainforests to the south were equally harsh
barriers," (Walker 24). That means that the mountains, deserts, and
rainforest in China were extremely hard to cross. That protected the
Huang He River Valley from intruders. Weather in the valley was ideal for
farming with the average temperature in the summer at 82 degrees Fahrenheit
and the average temperature in the winter at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the Huang He River Valley "the annual precipitation is about 23 inches,"
(Frey 189). There was enough precipitation to water the crops but it
didn’t flood the fields, which made the valley an excellent place to settle.
The Huang He River travels more than 3000 miles
before it empties into the Yellow Sea. The river begins on the high
Tibet-Qinghai Plateau in Outer China. The plateau was not very suitable
to live on because it was too cold and dry. The Huang He then makes
a big northern arch through the Gobi Desert where it picks up yellowish soil
called loess. There were a few settlements along the Huang He River
in the Gobi Desert, but the desert was to dry for large settlements. The Huang He River then moves eastward across the North China Plain. Most of the people who depended on the Huang He River lived on the North China
Plain. The river finally ends in the Yellow Sea off the coast of eastern
"The Huang He River overflowed its banks almost
every year," (Langston 151). When it overflowed it brought fertile yellow
soil called loess to the valley. Loess (pronounced less) is a crumbly,
yellowish, sandy-clay soil that is blown from the Gobi Desert, 600 miles
away. "Rich in minerals, the loess, whose yellow silt gave the river
its name, was easy to turn," (Allan 10). The loess that fertilized
the land near the Huang He made the valley a superior place to grow crops.
The Huang He River Passing Through the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau
drawn by Becky
The main reason people settled in China in early
times was settled agriculture. This differentiated them from their
nomadic neighbors in the north and east. "Situated near a bend in the
Huang He River, the fertile plains were ideal for farming and pasture, while
the mountains behind it had timber and wild game,"(Bowman 80). The
Huang He River Valley had room to grow crops and raise animals and the land
around it had wild animals to hunt. Farmers grew a lot of different
varieties of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They also grew millet, wheat,
barley, and hemp (to provide fiber for clothing). People who lived
in the Huang He Valley raised cattle, sheep, oxen, pigs, and chickens.
Several different types of wild animals also lived in the Huang He River
Valley. These included tigers, elephants, deer, water buffalo, wild
boars, and rhinoceros.
The Huang He River flooded often. The silt
in the river made the water level rise until it ran above its banks.
When the river flooded it made the soil fertile and easy to work with.
The soil near the Huang He River was rich and easy to cultivate. It
was free of rocks and it held moisture well. "Although the annual
flood brought the soil on which the people’s livelihood depended on it often
wiped out dikes and villages," (Bowman 81). According to historians,
the river has overflowed 1500 times in the last 3000 years. It has
taken more than 10 million lives, which is why it is called "China’s Sorrow".
When people chose to live in ancient China, there
were many things to think about before they settled. One of the most
important things to consider was where to settle. The land near the
Huang He River was a great place to live. Loess from the river made
the land fertile. One of the reasons people moved to the Huang He
Valley was because it was a great place to grow crops and raise animals.
Some people chose not the live there because of the devastating floods.
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