Wednesday, August 13, 2008

China's Land Area

Yesterday’s blog looked at the vast size of the USA and the surprisingly large amount of land that is owned by the U. S. Government. Today I want to compare our land area to that of China, which from a raw land area is almost identical to the USA at 3.5 million square miles. Only Canada and Russia are larger in land area.

However, while total acres are roughly equal the difference in those areas is great, especially when you take into account rainfall and population. John Mauldin who writes a fascinating world investment piece, recently wrote, “Contemporary China is an island. Although not surrounded by water (which borders only its eastern flank), China is bordered by terrain that is difficult to traverse in virtually any direction. The outer shell both contains and protects China.”

This mountainous topography does not lend itself well to habitation nor transportation. It is largely because of these physical impediments that virtually all of the population and economic activity is concentrated in the area shown in green on the maps shown. Over one billion Chinese live in this area, which is less than half the size of the USA.

West of this area of habitation (shown by the red line) is a marked difference in rainfall amounts. West of this line it rains less than 15 inches per year compared to east of the line where it rains more. Less than 20 inches of rain/year is considered desert conditions.

Perhaps most alarming, if I was a Chinese leader, is that China has about one-third of the arable land per person when compared to the rest of the world. Adding the fact that China is elevating a population the size of Germany (82 million—14th most populous country in the world) from poverty into its middle class each year. Those 82 million are definitely going to be eating better.

I’d say that it bodes well for our rural, agriculturally rich communities.

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