Interesting facts about Beijing

Beijing alternatively romanized as Peking is the capital of the People’s Republic of China.

It is situated in the northern part of the country.

As of March 2021, the population of Beijing is about 22 million people. It is the world’s most populous national capital city and the 2nd most populated city in China (after Shanghai).

The city covers a total area of 16,410 square kilometers (6,336 square miles).

The average altitude is 43.5 metres (142.7 feet) above sea level.

The city of Beijing has a long and rich history that dates back over 3,000 years.

Prior to the unification of China by the First Emperor in 221 BC, Beijing had been for centuries the capital of the ancient states of Ji and Yan.

It was the capital city in the Liao (916-1125), Jin (1115-1234), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. During these 800 years, 34 emperors lived and ruled here.

The name Beijing, which means “Northern Capital”, was applied to the city in 1403 during the Ming dynasty to distinguish the city from Nanjing (the “Southern Capital”).

From 1279 onward, with the exception of two interludes from 1368 to 1420 and 1928 to 1949, Beijing would remain as China’s capital.

The city remained the most flourishing cultural centre in China despite the frequent political changes in the country throughout the early decades of the 20th century – Beijing’s importance was fully realized, however, only when the city was chosen as the capital of the People’s Republic in 1949, and this political status has added much vitality to it.

Indeed, few cities have ever had such rapid growth in population and geographic area, as well as in industrial and other activities. Combining both historical relics of an ancient culture and new urban construction, ranging from fast-food franchises to plush hotels for foreign tourists and corporate travelers, it has become a showplace of modern China and one of the world’s great cities.

The Forbidden City is a palace complex in Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples. It was constructed from 1406 to 1420, and was the former Chinese imperial palace and winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming dynasty (since the Yongle Emperor) to the end of the Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. The Forbidden City served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households and was the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for almost 500 years. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest inner-city square. It is named after the eponymous Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”) located to its north, which separates it from the Forbidden City. The square size is 765 x 282 meters (2,510 x 925 feet). It is designed to hold a million people and built to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Republic in 1958.

The Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces in Beijing. It was an imperial garden in the Qing dynasty. Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, it covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres (1.1 sq mi), three-quarters of which is water. In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value”.

The Temple of Heaven is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for a good harvest. The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City.

Beijing National Stadium, officially the National Stadium also known as the Bird’s Nest is a 91,000-capacity stadium in Beijing. The stadium was jointly designed by architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron from Basel-based architecture team Herzog & de Meuron, project architect Stefan
Marbach, artist Ai Weiwei, and CADG, which was led by chief architect Li Xinggang. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Beihai Park also known as the Winter Palace, is a public park and former imperial garden located in the northwestern part of the Imperial City. First built in the 11th century, it is among the largest of all Chinese gardens and contains numerous historically important structures, palaces, and temples. Since 1925, the place has been open to the public as a park. It is also connected at its northern end to the Shichahai. The park has an area of more than 69 hectares (171 acres), with a lake that covers more than
half of the entire park. At the center of the park is an island called Jade Flower Island whose highest point is 32 meters (105 ft).

The Yonghe Temple also known as the Yonghe Lamasery, or popularly as the Lama Temple, is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism located in Beijing. The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles. This building is one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in China proper. Completed in 1745, the building served a political purpose by giving Lamaism, the religion of the then just annexed Tibet, an official seat in the capital.

The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as Yuanming Yuan originally called the Imperial Gardens and sometimes called the Winter Palace, was a complex of palaces and gardens in present-day Haidian District, Beijing, China. It is 8 kilometres (5 mi) northwest of the walls of the former Imperial
City section of Beijing. Widely perceived as the pinnacle work of Chinese imperial garden and palace design, the Old Summer Palace was known for its extensive collection of gardens, its building architecture and numerous art and historical treasures. Constructed throughout the 18th and early 19th
centuries, the Old Summer Palace was the main imperial residence of Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty and his successors, and where they handled state affairs – the Forbidden City was used for formal ceremonies. It was reputed as the “Garden of Gardens” in its heyday.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), and colloquially described as The Giant Egg, is an arts centre containing an opera house in Beijing. Designed by French architect Paul Andreu, the NCPA is
the largest theatre complex in Asia. There are Opera hall, Music hall, theater and art exhibition halls, restaurants, audio shops, and other supporting facilities.

The Beijing Zoo is a zoological park in Beijing, the capital of the China. Founded in 1906 during the late Qing dynasty, it is the oldest zoo in China and oldest public park in northern China. The zoo is also a center of zoological research that studies and breeds rare animals from various continents. The zoo occupies an area of 89 hectares (220 acres), including 5.6 hectares (14 acres) of lakes and ponds in Xicheng District. It has one of the largest animal collections in the country. The zoo and its aquarium have over 450 species of land animals and over 500 species of marine animals – in all, it is home to 14,500 animals.

Many of Beijing’s 91 universities consistently rank among the best in the Asia-Pacific and the world. Beijing is home to the two best universities (Tsinghua and Peking) in the Asia-Pacific and emerging countries.

Beijing CBD is a center for Beijing’s economic expansion, with the ongoing or recently completed construction of multiple skyscrapers.

Beijing’s Zhongguancun area is a world leading center of scientific and technological innovation as well as entrepreneurship.

Beijing has been ranked the No.1 city in the world with the largest scientific research output.

The city has hosted numerous international and national sporting events, the most notable being the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2008 Summer Paralympics Games.

Beijing will become the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and also the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Paralympics.

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