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The State of China Atlas: Mapping the World’s Fastest-Growing Economy Paperback – April 13, 2009
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"A great visual introduction to the diversity of China."―Tony Saich, Harvard University
"The State of China Atlas fills a vital gap, ranging from population, economic growth, and political leadership through to social and environmental development."―John Gittings, former Asia editor, The Guardian
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Although described as an atlas, this is a misnomer because there are no provincial or regional maps.
This book, published in 2009, describes the rapid industrial develpoment of China in recent years, and many of the problems that have arisen, such as ill-distribution of wealth and environmental pollution.
The narrative is backed up by plenty of statistics on different aspects of China, drawn from the many sources listed at the end of the book. Some statistics are in tabular form; others are bar charts and pie charts. Others again are presented as maps of China divided into provinces, each illustrating a particular achievement or problem.
There are also some interesting charts showing the political hierarchy of Communist China.
The overall picture of this great nation is not entirely flattering.
I noticed two errors that had gone undetected. Firstly the map of China divided into provinces, which is used repeatedly throughout the book, shows the provincial boundary between Sichuan and Chongqing in the wrong place, giving Chongqing a large area to the southwest which really belongs to Sichuan. Secondly there is a column of data showing that (incredibly) the annual population growth rates of provinces are in the exact alphabetical order of province name, with Anhui having the fastest growth and Zhejiang having the slowest growth!
Apart from these minor blemishes, for which I deducted one star, this book provides many interesting insights into the state of modern China and its growing pains. There is also a pocket edition of this book, containing similar material, but I do not see much need to carry a book like this on your travels.
A more polished work, including regional maps of China, is the National Geographic "Atlas of China" which I recommend. More geographical detail, including an individual map of each province, can be found on the web site of the Muztagh Travel Service.
However, be aware that the data is essentially a snapshot in time from surveys and data collected prior to publishing and this book's usefulness will decline as new data becomes available. With the speed that China is developing, clearly this book will need to be republished every few years.
Just now, however, it is still a very worthy purchase to give you a better understanding of the internal and external state of China, as well as the trends and mechanics of this huge nation.