China Geography

China Map 1 : The Tang Empire

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China Geography

This sequence of four maps of China show how it has changed since the Tang dynasty, and also how past events relate to contemporary border issues. Click on Next to go to the next map in the series.

Tang Empire

The Tang Empire, about 700 AD

The prosperity of Tang China derived in part from trade along the Silk Road which led from the capital at Chang'an across Central Asia and eventually to the Middle East and Europe. At this time the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang) was entirely under Tang control, and they even established protectorates beyond the Pamir Mountains, in modem Afghanistan. Chinese power was checked decisively in 751 when the Tang were defeated by the Arabs at the Battle of Talas, and in the following decades the Tarim Basin fell into the hands of the Tibetans. To the north of the Silk Road, the Turkic Uighurs were kept at bay with marriage alliances and by trading silk for their horses.

Following the defeat of the ancient state of Koguryo, Korea was subsequently unified under the Tang client state of Silla. This avoided the need for costly Korean campaigns which had lost the preceding Sui dynasty popular support.

North Vietnam (Annam) had been part of the Chinese Empire since 111 BC and remained so until the middle of the tenth century, after the end of the Tang Empire


The Tang model of government was widely admired and copied by China's neighbours, including Silla, the state of Nanzhao in Yunnan, the Tungusic state of Pohai in Manchuria and of course Japan, which borrowed and then modified many aspects of Chinese culture throughout this period.

© Copyright Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) 2001 by David Wright, reprinted from China Now 135, Page 17

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