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Dear Diary: One day I walked over to a computer and typed "Borders of China" into the search engine. The first article that appeared was from Wikipedia and contained a table showing a list of all the neighboring countries (there are fourteen of them, tied for the most with Russia) and their borders. I added them up, but that didn't tell me the coastline, so I typed "Geography of China" into the search engine and that told me the coastline to complete the perimeter and it also told me the area (either third or fourth most, depending on how it's figured). That didn't solve the problem of creating an essay. I didn't want someone else to do my homework for me (except I kinda did). I suppose I could write about the fact that these are approximations, since it's virtually impossible to survey all the nooks and crannies of a perpetually eroding coastline or I could explore the various border disputes (contemporary and/or centuries old) that might alter these numbers depending on whom you talk to. I mean. that's kind of interesting, isn't it? Are a country's borders what the country says they are or what the border countries say they are or what the rest of the world thinks they are? Do we count Taiwan or not? Are we considering the perimeter to be the mainland or all of the territory that China lays claim to? Is it even possible to "own" an island? Or land at all, for that matter? The Native Americans didn't think so, but that didn't work out well for them. I wonder how many wars have been fought and how many people have died because of these numbers. One of the modern wonders of the world (the Great Wall) was built to establish and fortify a part of the perimeter. Does size matter? Does China gain any political advantage from its geographical dimensions? Geez, this could turn into a book but the good news is there's more than enough material for an essay. It probably won't write itself, but I have to remember the sense of accomplishment I get from completing a difficult task. Hopefully, my effort will be rewarded by a decent grade. I mean, I don't do these things just for the grades (except I kind of do). Oh well, maybe I'll learn something. I mean, I don't think one little essay on China's borders will spark a lifelong interest in the country and lead to an advanced degree and an extended visit and a life partner, but you never know. I did know someone that happened to once.

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Q: What is an essay about how to find the area and perimeter of China?
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