A key defining characteristic of Chinese history is water. From the earliest known origins of a history that spans millennia, the cultivation of rice has been central to Chinese civilization, and rice requires a great deal of water. Thus, control over water, over damns and irrigation canals, has been a central theme throughout China's history. On the left, two young boys run through a rice paddy in Southeastern China. The terraced landscape on the right is typical of water control techniques used in rural China for centuries. Source: Keith Buchanan, China: The Land and the People (New York: Crown Publishers, 1980).