GEOGRAPHICAL, HISTORIC AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND
The history of China has always been very influenced by its geography. China is like a huge oasis, surrounded by natural barriers everywhere. In the east and south we have the Pacific Ocean, the Tibetan Plateau being in the west and finally about 1,600 km of desert in the north.
There have always been access routes, but speaking in relative terms, the Chinese geography has traditionally imposed a noteworthy degree of self-sufficiency and isolation from outer influences.
Of paramount importance in the genesis and development of this impressive culture was the august Yangtse river, fountain of life and of a continual commercial and artistic activity since the oldest times. It starts to flow in the Tibetan Plateau and is nourished by a great many tributaries, while it flows through its rich plains and during the summer floods period it bears twice more the water volume than Mississippi river at its maximum annual level.
On the south of the middle course of the Yangtse, the land is plentiful and productive, but the valleys made up by the river are narrow and you´re constantly in touch with hills and mountains. And where it was possible, such hills were transformed into rice fields terraces.
Besides, China has been an epicenter of utterly important and very ancient philosophical and thought trends, as Taoism, Confucionism, Buddhism and so forth.
It also possesses a very old cuisine, with thousands of different recipes and a very high level and ancient natural medicine, complemented by fairly deep knowledge on Acupunture.
A lot of trading routes crossed through its vast geography, especially the silk one and China was always a great worldly producer and exporter of tea, with epicentre in the town of Hankou and manufacture of three types of tea: "Lao cha"(big or normal tea), "Jin zhuan"(brick tea) and "Mi zhuan"(black tea of bohea of lesser size). The two first were green tea varieties that were shipped to Central Asia and Eastern Siberia and the third one was mainly sold in Siberia.
Tea became very consubstantial to the great Chinese civilization, to such extent that tea bricks with official stamp were often used in a wide range of trade transactions (one of them, almost intact, can be watched currently at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid).
It was also relevant the "hookah" tobacco of Lanzhou (administrative capital of Gansu province), which was exported to every area in China.
And equally very considerable was the development of theatre, with classic tragedies, commedies and vaudevilles.
Historically, in the beginning, China stood out by its Neolithic cultural stage of Yang-shao.
Later on, appeared the Bronze Age and the Shang Order(about from 1766 to 1122 BC) and successively different dynasties, being relevant amongst them the Chou Kings, the Han Empire, the Mongolian Yüan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty, the Sung Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, etc, during which the country was in the hands of Chinese, Mongols and Manchu people.
The enormous social, political, economic and warlike convulsions happened in China during the first 50 years of XX century (Boxer Rebellion in 1900, proclamation of the Chinese Republic by Sun Yat-Sen, seizure of power by Chiang Kai-Shek and fight against Mao Tse Tung´s communists, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and later utter war against Japan until 1945 and specially the Civil War that broke again between Nationalists and Communists in 1946, with victory of Mao Tse Tung´s troops and the instauration in 1946 of the Popular Republic of China) were all events that charged a high toll both in human lives and serious damages to the architectonic and traditional cultural heritage of the millenary classic China.
To it all we must add up the unceasing erosive effect of the wind, with its abrasive winds, water, thunderbolts, earthquakes, etc.
Notwithstanding, the huge richness and diversity of glorious vestiges, has made possible the survival of authentic wonders of the classic China. Amongst them we must undeline: