The topography varies greatly in China, a vast land of lofty plateau, large plains, rolling land and big and small basins surrounded by lofty mountains. All the five basic topographic types in the world exist in China to create the conditions for developing industry and agriculture.
Mountainous land and very rough terrains make up 2/3 of Chinese territory, and this has created some problems in transport and in the development of agricultural production. However such topographical features are conducive to the development of forestry, mineral and hydropower resources and tourism.
Taking a bird's-eye view of China, the terrain gradually descends from west to east like a staircase. Due to the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau rose continuously to become the top of the four-step "staircase," averaging more than 4,000 m above sea level, and called "the roof of the world." Soaring 8,848 m above sea level on the plateau is Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest), the world's highest peak and the main peak of the Himalayas. The second step includes the gently sloping Inner Mongolia Plateau, the Loess Plateau, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the Tarim Basin, the Junggar Basin and the Sichuan Basin, with an average elevation of between 1,000 m and 2,000 m. The third step, dropping to 500-1,000 m in elevation, begins at a line drawn around the Greater Hinggan, Taihang, Wushan and Xuefeng mountain ranges and extends eastward to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Here, from north to south, are the Northeast Plain, the North China Plain and the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain. Interspersed amongst the plains are hills and foothills. To the east, the land extends out into the ocean, in a continental shelf, the fourth step of the staircase. The water here is mostly less than 200 m deep.