As the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing is the nation's political, economic, cultural and educational center as well as being the most important center in China for international trade and communications.It has been the heart and soul of politics and society throughout its long history.
Because of its role in the life and growth of China, there is an unequalled wealth available for travelers to discover as you explore Beijing's ancient past and enjoy its exciting 21st Century world.
Some 690,000 years ago, Peking Man lived at Zhoukoudian, 48 kilometer southwest of Beijing. A small town appeared on the present site of southwestern Beijing in 1045 BC. It was named Ji and then changed to Yan. At the beginning of the 10th century, it was the second capital of the Liao dynasty. From then on, the city had been the capital of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties until 1911.
In the early twenties, Beijing became the cradle of China's new democratic revolution. The May Fourth Movement against imperialism and feudalism began here in 1919. On October Ist, 1949, Chairman Mao proclaimed to the whole world the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Beijing attracts world attention with its growing prosperity, and its closer links with world affairs. Through more than 40 years of construction, Beijing has changed from a consumer-city to a major city with various industries.
With China's reform and opening up, Beijing is improving urban construction on an unprecedented scale. Its speed of development is astonishing, and it brings about changes day after day. Around this graceful ancient capital, a large number of key national projects, massive infrastructure buildings and modern residential houses have sprung up. Wasteland and low, dilapidated houses are gradually disappearing, replaced by newly-built residential quarters of different styles and surrounded by greenbelts.
Wide and smooth highways, magnificent overpasses and expressways link Beijing with its neighboring provinces and cities, and eye-catching green trees and gardens have made Beijing resemble a huge scroll of painting pleasing to both the eye and the mind. To preserve the space and historic buildings around the Forbidden City, nearby buildings must remain single-storey structures, and buildings within the Second Ring Road must be no more than 30 m in height.
As China's cultural center, Beijing, with a galaxy of talent and a rich culture, has over 70 institutions of higher learning such as the famous Beijing University, Qinghua University, more than 500 scientific research institutions, over 300 publishing houses, as well as hundreds of newspapers and periodicals.
Beijing has a population of 10.855 million; about 5 million live in the city proper and the rest on the outskirts. It is divided into 12 districts and 6 counties. A long history has left numerous famous historical sites which possess great aesthetic and cultural values. Within the city, you'll find some of China's most stunning sights: the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Lama Temple and the Great Wall, to name just a few.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people, domestic and foreign, come to Beijing to visit its grand palaces and graceful gardens and to enjoy its marvelous art.
In 2008 when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, Beijing will show the world something so special that everyone will be amazed by Beijing's latest accomplishments combined with its ancient history.
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