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July 2013



Earthquakes ranging from 4.7-5.9 magnitude struck Gansu Province, China on July 21, 2013. The province in northwestern China borders Mongolia. The province's mineral resources include coal, copper, gold, nickel, zinc, and large deposits of iron ore and oil; two important oil fields are also located in the province. Although Han Chinese comprise most of the population, there are also eleven major minorities within the province.

For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under Mao Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life. After 1978, Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded.

China is the fourth largest country in the world; only slightly smaller than the US. Its climate is extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north. Its terrain is mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east. China's natural resources include: coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, rare earth elements, uranium, and hydropower. The natural hazards facing China are: frequent typhoons, damaging floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, and land subsidence.

For more information about earthquakes, worldwide, contact the USGS Natural Hazards Program.

CIA World Factbook; USGS Earthquakes Hazard Program; The Columbia Gazetteer, 7/2013; 7/2013; 7/2013

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