Geographically, China was and still is an isolated civilization. A brief glance at a map will show that of the ancient world’s four great early civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River valley in Pakistan, and the Yellow River in China), China is by far the most remote. China is bounded to the east and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the southwest and west by the massive Himalaya and Pamir mountain ranges, and to the north by steppe lands and the desolate terrains of Siberia.
It would, however, be a mistake to conclude that China’s geography cut it off completely from contact with the rest of the world. People could and did travel to China via overland routes, such as the famous Silk Road, and on the seas. But such travel was hazardous and very time consuming, and throughout much of history China has been somewhat “mysterious” and fascinating to the outside world.