Effects of Geography on the River Valley Civilizations The developments of early civilizations in Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia were greatly influenced by their geographical locations which allowed them to each adapt to their environment in many different and similar ways. These ancient river valley civilizations were all affected by surrounding rivers, landscapes, and environmental changes such as climate. Accordingly, all four regions were able to take advantage of their geographical location and to develop their own civilizations.
If the geographical location wasn’t as it was, then life would have been much more different back then. One significant geographical influence to the river valley civilizations were the rivers. Rivers provided water, transportation, and helped create rich soil. Sometimes these rivers could also bring great disasters to the regions. Mesopotamia was located in between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The rivers had unpredictable flooding, which was sometimes inconvenient for the people living there. This led to the invention of dikes to hold back flood waters and irrigation systems to help carry water the to the farming fields.
Egyptian settlements appeared along the Nile river. The river had yearly flooding, but these floods were predictable, and settlements were also able to form irrigation systems. The Nile served as a source of reliable transportation and as a trade route. Chinese civilizations began in the Huang He valley, which was where the Huang He river was located. This river would have devastating floods which would destroy virtually everything. In response to this the Chinese worked hard to constantly build and repair dikes to keep the river from overflowing. Eventually irrigation systems were placed using the river.
It was also used as transportation and even as a weapon against warring states. Indian civilization formed on the Valley of the Indus River. The Indus river supplied constant freshwater for the civilizations and was used for the irrigation systems. The river also carried melting snow from the mountains to the plains, making agriculture possible. It is theorized that the flooding of this river and its change of course caused the end for the Indus people. Another important geographical influence to the river valley civilizations were the varying landscapes.
The different landscapes provided different benefits for each region, but could also cause disadvantages. The landscapes found in Mesopotamia were flat plains filled with rich soil and silt. Although the soil was efficient for farming, the civilizations in the open plains were left defenseless with no natural barrier protection. Egypt settlements developed along a narrow strip of land made fertile by the river. Surrounding landscapes were mostly desert areas on both sides of The Nile. This protected against invaders, but also limited contact with other people. This caused Egypt to develop in isolation and form a unique culture.
The landscapes found in China were the Tien Shan mountains, the Himalayas mountain range, brutal deserts, and thick jungles. The land near the rivers were used for agricultural purposes. Although there were many difficult barriers, China still had contact with other people. This allowed for trading and the spread of ideas. The landscapes found in India include fertile fields for farming, mountains, and steep passes. The Himalayas isolated India and allowed development of a distinct culture. The steep passes through the Hindu Kush served as a gateway to migration and invading.
The last most important geographical factor that influenced Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia was climate. The climates change and depend on where your location is. It can decide how you live, what you do, what you wear, and affect many other similar things too. The climate found in Mesopotamia was very hot and dry. The area received little to no rain at all. This factor decided where the Mesopotamians would create a civilization, which was near a river area. The climate found in Egypt was very dry and hot desert climate. This region also received little to no rain, which led the people to depend on the Nile river floods.
Due to the climate civilizations popped up along the narrow strip near the Nile river. The climate found in China was varying from scorching hot to freezing cold. The central regions of China are dry and hot while the south regions are more tropical with lots of rain. The mountain areas contained freezing temperatures due to its elevation. The different climates allowed people to live in different places and adapt accordingly. For example, in the dry and hot area people lived near the rivers and some depended on monsoons for the rain. The climate found in India was also diverse similar to China.
This was due to the different landforms found in this area. Just like China, people lived in different areas and adapted accordingly. In conclusion, the developments of early civilizations in Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia was influenced by rivers, landscapes, and climate. Rivers provided benefits of using the body of water. The landscapes provided protection and land. The climate decided where people would end up living and how they would live. Essentially, due to all these geographical influences these four river valley civilizations developed the way they did because of these factors.