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It dictates what sorts of animals are available for domestication, which crops can be cultivated most efficiently, and the habits required for survival in the region. Mongolia, a central Asian country, has a unique variety of climatic attributes associated with it. Mongolia’s central heartland consists mainly of flat, rocky steppes. To the south is the Gobi Desert, while both the northern and western segments of the country are mountainous. Mongolia grows hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter. The frigid temperatures, with January averages dropping down to -22°F, mainly owe themselves to the high elevation of the country. Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar itself holds the coldest average temperature of any national capital worldwide. Averaging 257 cloudless days out of a full year, Mongolia attains most of its precipitation (which is roughly twenty centimeters annually) during the short summer period. Water resources are another geographical element extremely important to a region’s growth. The ancient kingdom of Mesopotamia was built upon strong water resources, in an area known as the Fertile Crescent. A curve of land between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, the Crescent was so named for its shape and its rich, easily arable lands. Between the Tigris and Euphrates, two rivers running through the Crescent, Mesopotamia was formed. The civilization boomed, partially thanks to the rich silt left behind from the rivers’ flooding upon which immense amounts of wheat and barley could be cultivated. However, this water-rich land was not purely a blessing. The unpredictable flooding of the rivers often left the farmers behind while the only arable soil for months was dried away by the hot sun. The dry summer months of the Fertile Crescent offered little in the way of farming.
Lastly, an area’s location can greatly influence the outcome of the situated civilization. Japan, an island nation, followed an isolationist path throughout most of its history. Holding a rich culture, cultivated over ten millennia, Japan was left largely without the influence of any outside peoples or traditions. The extreme ideal of Sakoku was Japan’s foreign policy from 1641 until 1853. Sakoku, literally “country in chains” prohibited entry or exit of Japan under penalty of death. This severe cultural quarantine led to sweeping changes in Japan’s infrastructure when, during the mid-1800s, Commodore Matthew Perry and the United States Navy forced the opening of Japan to the rest of the world’s populace. A modern government, legal system, and military, along with a system of parliament modeled after the British, were soon adopted. These and other reforms helped to transform Japan into a world power, culminating in the conflict of World War II. Following Japan’s crushing defeat, a pacifist constitution emphasizing international cooperation and human rights was put into place. This, along with fierce industrial development and the financial support of the United States, helped to propel Japan to the international station it holds today; one of the world’s largest and most prosperous economies.