Beijing in Brief

Beijing, or Peking, known as the political and cultural center, is the capital city of the People’s Republic of China. With a history of over 3,000 years, Beijing has been served as the capital city of China in 6 dynasties; those are Yan, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty. Great changes have taken place since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949. Although today the city becomes a very modern one, it remains spiritually and politically the heart of the country. The scholar tree and oriental cypress are Beijing’s official city trees, the Chinese rose and the chrysanthemum as Beijing’s official city flowers. Besides, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games was successfully held in Beijing and earned this city new reputation in the international stage.


Beijing Geographical Features

Beijing is around 39°56″N, 116°20″E, and at an elevation of 44.38 meters above sea level. The total area of Beijing city is approximately 750 sq. km (290 sq. mi). Beijing has very orderly designed, with long, straight boulevards and avenues crisscrossed. The extensive Yanshan Mountain range forms a screen to the northeast, while the long, winding Taihang Mountain range to the west. Just beyond, to the northwest, the vast Mongolian plateau begins. Beijing has a continental monsoon climate commonly found in the temperate zone with four definite seasons. Summer and winter are the two longer seasons with fall and spring being the shorter. The climate varies according to the season with spring and autumn being the most pleasant time to visit. Autumn is usually clear with cool temperatures, while winter is dry and, at times, bitterly cold with temperatures dropping below 5 F° (-15 C°). Spring is usually dry but very windy, while the summer is rainy and hot with temperatures soaring above 100 F°(38 C°). In winter, cold, dry winds blow out of Siberia and Mongolia in the northwest; in summer, warm, moist air currents from the southeast take over. A general change of wind direction occurs in March or April and again in September. Wind velocity in Beijing is comparatively low, averaging 2 meter/second. The average annual rainfall of 630 millimeters is regarded as a generous "heavenly endowment" for North China, which is otherwise predominantly dry and short of rain. The coldest month in Beijing is January, with an average temperature -4.7C°, while the hottest month is July, with an average of 26.1C°. Rapid temperature increases in the spring are often accompanied by sandstorms, but windless days in that season are wonderfully pleasant. Autumn, though short-lived, is a concentrated stretch of clear, crisp days and patchwork trees.


Beijing People

According to the 6th national census in Nov, 2010, Beijing has a population of over 19.612 million, 7.045 million of which are temporary residents. In Beijing, the permanent residents are from all of the different ethnic groups such as Mongolian, Manchurian, Korean, etc. found in China with the Hans comprising over 95% of the population. Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken in Beijing, with Beijing’s dialect being the standard form of Mandarin. As the development of the world culture changing and successful 2008 Olympic Games, now there are a considerably vast number of English speakers in Beijing. The major organized religions are Daoism (or Taoism), Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islamic.


Beijing History

Some half a million years ago, Peking ape man lived in Zhoukoudian, in the southwestern suburbs of Beijing. The climate of that time was warmer and more humid than it is today. Forests and lakes in the area supported large numbers of living creatures. The fossil remains of Peking ape man, his stone tools and evidence of use of fire, as well as later tools of 18,000 years ago, bone needles and article of adornment from the age of Upper Cave Man are the earliest cultural relics on record in China today. Some four to five thousand years ago, settlements to the southwest of Beijing were thriving on basic agriculture and animal husbandry. Story has it that the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) battled against the tribal leader Chiyou in Zhuolu, a town west of present-day Beijing, is perhaps the site of the first metropolis in the area. Yellow Emperor’s successor, Emperor Yao, was said to have established a legendary capital Youdu (City of Quietude) that was where the city of Ji was actually built. During the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC), the Marquis of Yan annexed the territory of the Marquis of Ji, making the city of Ji his new capital. The approximate location was north of Guang anmen Gate in present day Beijing near the White Cloud Temple (Baiyunguan). Historically speaking, the mountains to the north, east and west acted as boundaries with outlying pasture lands. Early in the third century BC, the first Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang) set about conquering six states and unifying China. The city of Ji was named administrative center as one of 36 prefectures in Chinas first feudal empire. For 10 centuries, through to the end of the Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD), Ji remained a strategic trading and military center and the object of frequent power struggles. The rebuilding of the new city began in 1151 with expansion to the east, west and south. Palaces were constructed on a scale similar to the Northern Song (960AD-1127AD) capital at Bianliang (modern Kaifeng in Henan province), and many of the actual building materials were transported from Bianliang. The registered population of the Imperial Palace in the center measured roughly five kilometers in circumference. The registered population amounted to 225,592 households, or approximately one million people. Mongol armies occupied Zhongdu in 1215 AD. At this time, the city of Kaiping (in present¨Cday Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region) served as the principal Mongol capital (Shangdu), while Yanjing was given provincial status. The envoys and traders from Europe, Asia and Africa who paid visits to China were astounded by the splendor and magnificence of Dadu. As written in Marco Polo’s description of the palaces:" You must know that it is the greatest palace that ever was..." The roof is very lofty, and the walls of the palace are all covered with gold and silver. They are adorned with dragons, beasts and birds, knights and idols, and other such things..." On August 2, 1368AD, Ming troops seized Dadu and renamed it Beiping (Northern Peace). Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368AD-1644AD), however, made Nanjing his first capital. Beginning in 1406AD, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty spent 15 years constructing walls 12 meters high and 10 meters thick at their base around the city of Beiping. The construction of palace buildings and gardens began in 1417AD and was completed in 1420AD. The following year, Emperor Yongle formally transferred the capital from Nanjing to Beiping and, for the first time, named the city Beijing (Northern Capital). When the Manchus founded the Qing Dynasty in 1644AD, they began to build suburban gardens, the most famous of which was Yuanmingyuan. After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911AD, it was in Tiananmen, on October 1, 1949, that Chairman Mao Zedong hoisted the red flag to proclaim officially the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Renamed the city Beijing, the city was chosen to be the capital of New China.

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