East Asia has the countries with both the world's most sparse and the largest populations. China dominates the region in size and population. East Asia is marked by mountain ranges, plateaus, deserts, and islands where natural resources are unevenly distributed. The same landforms affect climate and vegetation. Monsoons bring seasonal weather patterns, which are also influenced by ocean currents.
The Land The People's Republic of China has the world's largest population and comprises about 80 percent of East Asia's land area. Other countries in the region include sparsely populated Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea on the Korean Peninsula, the island nation of Taiwan, and the archipelago of Japan. Three tectonic plates meet along an arc of islands east of China and cause frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Undersea earthquakes can cause tsunamis. Mountain ranges and highlands mark the inland regions of East Asia. China's major riversóthe Yellow, Yangtze, and Xi Riversóbegin in the Plateau of Tibet and provide transportation routes, hydroelectric power, and fertile soil in their basins. East Asia's mineral and agricultural resources are unevenly distributed.
Climate and Vegetation Latitude and physical features, such as mountain barriers, highlands, and coastal regions, shape East Asia's climate. Dry highlands and grasslands dominate the north and west, while mid-latitude climates can be found in the southeastern quarter of East Asia. Bamboo, a tree-like grass, mulberry trees, and tea bushes thrive there. The island of Hainan has a tropical rain forest climate. Seasonal weather patterns are dominated by the monsoons, which bring over 80 percent of the region's annual rainfall during the summer months and cold, arctic air during the winter. Ocean currents influence the climate of Japan. The interaction of ocean currents and monsoons can give rise to typhoons.