Unlike United States or Russia, China has
already been united since 221 B.C. Though it has a population of 1.2 billion,
800 million Chinese speaks Mandarin and the other 300 million speaks similar
languages. However, like any other nation, China also had its own obstacles.
It may not be well-known but there is a
distinction between North Chinese and South Chinese. The northerners possess
more pointed nose and smaller eyes. They are heavier, taller and paler. They
also resemble the people of Nepal and Tibet. The southerners, meanwhile, look more
like the Filipinos and Vietnamese.
The north and the south also differ in climate
and environment. North China is colder and drier while South China is hotter
and wetter. Nevertheless, China has an East-West axis which made agriculture
flourish. Early evidences of food production were found all over the country.
Millet species which are drought-resistant grew in North China and rice flourished
in South China. Archaeologists also found bones of domesticated animals like
chicken, dogs and pig. Silkworms, ducks, geese and water buffalo were also
important. Ancient Chinese farmers also planted pears, peaches, citrus,
apricots, tea and soybeans.
As a result of stable food production, other
developments followed. Xia, the first dynasty was already founded around 2000
B.C. At the time when Southeast Asians are only hunter-gatherers, Chinese have
already started processing bronze and iron. They have already invented
gunpowder, wheel barrow, compass and paper.
It is even likely that influenza originated in China because of the
widespread cultivation of pigs. The rulers commanded the commoners to build big
palaces, defensive walls and the Grand Canal linking the north and south.
By 400 B.C., societies within the country
began to interact with each other, gradually forming the Chinese culture. Also
fundamental to China’s unification, aside from agriculture, are the two great
rivers. Both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River provided coast to inner
land transportation of goods and technology. They were witnesses to the
exchange between the North and South China.
China began to influence Korea and Japan from 200 B.C.
when the two countries adopted rice. The next centuries they also began with
bronze metallurgy and writing. Until now, the alphabets of Korea and Japan
still contain a few Chinese characters. However, because of geography, both
countries were not absorbed by China. Each developed its own strong society with
unique culture and form of government.