The geography of China shaped the way its civilization and culture developed. The large area was isolated from much of the rest of the world and consequently enabled the Chinese to develop independently from other world civilizations. At times, China led the world in discoveries, but during the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution, China was left behind by its European counterparts. China has a fascinating past, present, and future, and this course will look at all three time periods. Today China is identified as a rising superpower, and this "rise of China" has been named the top news story of the 21st century.