Parks and Recreation
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
For Further Study
Founded: c. 723 b.c.; First Known as Beijing: 1421
Location: North China Plain
Time Zone: 8 pm Chinese time=noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: Han, 96.2%
Elevation: 30–40 m (100–130 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 39°55'N, 166°25'E
Climate : Continental monsoon climate in a temperate zone, with long winters and hot, rainy summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 12°C (53°F); January–4°C (24°F); July 26°C (79°F)
Average Annual Precipitation: 635 mm (25 in)
Government: Centrally administered by the national government
Weights and Measures: Metric system, with some use of traditional Chinese units
Monetary Units: Yuan (also called kuai); Monetary system called Renminbi ("people's currency") (abbreviation: Rmb)
Telephone Area Codes: 10 (Beijing area code); 86 (China country code)
Located on the North China Plain in the north-central part of the country, Beijing (also known as Peking) is the capital of the People's Republic of China and its second-largest city. As the political and cultural center of one of the world's largest and oldest countries almost continuously for nearly 800 years, Beijing has had a colorful and fascinating history, from its days as the aristocratic imperial "center of the world" to revolution, foreign occupation, and civil war in the twentieth century. During the last two decades of the twentieth century, Beijing was transformed yet again, as the economic liberalization and modernization of the post-Mao Zedong era turned the formerly austere Communist capital into a bustling commercial metropolis and tourist center and home to a thriving consumer economy. (Mao Zedong, 1893–1976, was the founder of the People's Republic of China and ruled from 1949 to 1959, but he remained chairman of the politburo until his death.)
Beijing is situated in the southern part of the North China Plain, with the Taihang and Yanshan mountains to the north and west and a flat plain to the southeast, leading to the Bohai Sea, where the five rivers that run through the city come together and empty out. About two-thirds of the city's total land area is hilly.
Highways radiate outward in all directions from Beijing: northeast to Chengdo; eastward to Tangshan; southeast to Tanggu and Tianjin; southward to Hengshui, Baoding, and Shijiazhuang; southwest to Laiyuan; and northwest to Zhangliahou.
Bus and Railroad Service
Trains are the most commonly used mode of passenger transportation in China, and Beijing is the nation's rail hub, serving as the terminus for many rail lines. Service is provided between Beijing and all Chinese provinces except Tibet. Beijing has four main train stations, of which the largest is the recently built West station in the southwest part of the city. Nearly every city in China, as well as many towns, can be reached from Beijing by train.
Long-distance bus service is used primarily to travel between Beijing and its suburbs, or to nearby cities. However, some bus lines travel as far as Shanghai or Qungdao.
Beijing Capital Airport, located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the central city, is China's major international airport. Its domestic and international terminals are located in the same building, with a new international terminal under construction. Scheduled flights connect Beijing with Shanghai, Canton, and all other major Chinese cities and tourist sites. There are direct flights to many international capitals, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and Berlin. Nanyuan Airport, south of Beijing, is used for domestic flights.
Beijing Population Profile
Population: 6–8 million
Area: 750 sq km (290 sq mi)
Nicknames: The Celestial City, The Northern Capital, The Center of the World
Description: Beijing Administrative Zone, which includes the city and its outskirt
Area: 16,800 sq km (6,486 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 12
Percentage of national population 2: 0.9%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.3%
Ethnic composition: 96.2% Han; 3.8% Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, and 52 other groups
- The Beijing metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of China's total population living in the Beijing metropolitan area.
Beijing's central city retains its carefully planned historic layout, arranged around a central north-south axis seven-and-a-half kilometers (five miles) long that passes through the city's entire central core, from the Bell Tower and Drum Tower in the north, through the Forbidden City at the center, to the site of the former Yung-ting Gate in the south. This central core is actually the remnant of two adjoining walled cities, whose outlines are retained although their walls are long gone—a roughly square-shaped "inner" city to the north and a rectangular "outer" city to the south.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
Buses are the most popular means of transportation in Beijing. The city has over 200 bus and trolley routes, and the buses are always packed. They run every five to ten minutes, from 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Tickets, which are inexpensive, are purchased after the passenger has boarded the bus, and the fare varies according to the distance traveled. Minibuses are also available, primarily for traveling to tourist attractions or railway stations.
Beijing has two subway lines, the east-west First Line, which runs from the western suburb of Xidan to the center of the city (and is slated to be extended to the eastern suburbs), and the Circle Line, which follows a circular route that corresponds to the former location of Beijing's original city walls. The subway is faster and less crowded than the bus lines but does not travel to all spots in the city.
Taxicabs have become increasingly popular in the past decade, and it is now easy to hail one of the many cabs that cruise the city streets and offer a convenient but relatively inexpensive alternative to the bus or subway.
Organized tours are offered by China's tourism agencies, of which the two major ones are the China International Travel Service (CITS) and the China Travel Service (CTS). CITS offers a variety of "Dragon Tours," which include such attractions as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, and rickshaw rides.
Beijing grew rapidly in the twentieth century, especially after the Communist revolution of 1949. Today the Beijing metropolitan area has a population of more than 12 million people. Between six and eight million live in the city proper, and the rest in the surrounding area. The population of the central city has also been expanded by the presence of more than three million transient workers from other areas.
Officially, 56 different ethnic groups are recognized in Beijing; however, an overwhelming majority of the population (96.2 percent) belongs to the Han ethnic group. The remainder are divided among the 55 other ethnicities, of which the most populous are the Manchus, Hui, and Mongolians. Several ethnic groups live in their own neighborhoods, with special facilities for observing their traditional cultural practices.
Greater Beijing is a vast metropolitan area of 16,800 square kilometers (6,486 square miles), first carved out under an imperial government centuries ago. Its unity has been preserved by the People's Republic, and today it is divided into ten districts (ch'u ) and eight counties (hsien ), which can be delineated into three concentric areas. The central one is the Old City, encompassing four of the ch'u ; this is the area originally enclosed by the city walls. It is further divided into the Inner and Outer Cities, two adjacent areas with the Outer City to the south. At the heart of the Inner City lies the Forbidden City, a historic district that is the former home of China's emperors. The Outer City consists mostly of residential and commercial areas and parks.
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||12,033,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||16,626,000|
|Date the city was founded||723 BC||AD 969||753 BC||1613|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$129||$193||$172||$198|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$62||$56||$59||$44|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$16||$14||$15||$26|
|Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals)||$207||$173||$246||$244|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||11||13||20||10|
|Largest newspaper||Renmin Ribao||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||The Wall Street Journal|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||3,000,000||1,159,450||754,930||1,740,450|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1948||1944||1976||1889|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
Encircling the central city is the zone of inner suburbs that accounts for five of the remaining ch'u. It is home to government buildings, schools, factories, and workers' residences, and its outer belt is cultivated to provide the city with a local supply of fresh produce. The Beijing and Qinghua universities lie in the northwest suburbs of this region.
Beijing's outermost, or far suburban, zone is made up of the one remaining ch'u and the eight hsien, or rural counties. This district consists largely of farmland and supplies the city with agricultural products, as well as coal, lumber, water, and other basic necessities. Its residential areas are primarily country towns.
The Beijing area is known to have been inhabited by prehistoric humans (Homo erectus pekinensis, or Beijing man) approximately 500,000 years ago. The earliest recorded settlement, in what is now southwest Beijing, dates back to around 1045 B. C. By 453–221 B. C. (the "Warring States" period), the site was home to a city called Ji, which was the capital of the Yan Kingdom.
In 1215, the city at the site of present-day Beijing was torched by the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan (1162–1227), who built a new city called Dadu ("Great Capital"), or Khanbaliq. Later in the thirteenth century, under the rule of Kublai Khan (1215–1294), it became the capital of a vast empire, and it has been China's national capital almost continuously ever since. It was renamed Beiping ("Northern Peace") at the beginning of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). In 1421, the third Ming emperor, Yongle, made the city his capital, and it assumed its present name of Beijing ("Northern Capital"). It was during this period that the present grid pattern of the central city was established, arranged around a north-south axis centering on the Imperial Palace. The city's design followed the traditional architectural principles of feng shui, a system of using space in a way intended to achieve maximum harmony between the human and natural worlds. In 1553 walls went up around the "outer city" to the south, enclosing suburbs that had grown up adjacent to the original city.
Under the Qing dynasty of the Manchus (1644–1911), Beijing underwent substantial renovation and expansion although the basic character of the city during the Ming period was largely preserved. The last century of Manchu rule was a period of foreign encroachment from without and political instability within. The city of Beijing was captured by French and British forces during the second Opium War (1858–60), and the Summer Palaces were burned down. Foreign forces attacked the city during the Boxer Rebellion (1898–1900) at the turn of the twentieth century, destroying many of its artistic and historical treasures. Beijing remained at the center of Chinese history following the 1911 revolution that ended Chinese imperial rule and placed the nationalist Kuomintang in power. At the conclusion of World War I (1914–18), it was the site of a historic demonstration in Tiananmen Square, opposing Chinese capitulation to the terms of the Versailles Treaty (signed in 1919, the Versailles Treaty officially ended World War I).
Military and political developments in the second quarter of the twentieth century affected the status of Beijing. Fighting to regain control of the country from the warlords who had seized power shortly after the revolution of 1911, the Kuomintang (the Chinese Nationalist Party), under Chiang Kaishek, moved its capital to Nanjing in 1928 and renamed Beijing, calling it Beiping ("Northern Peace" instead of "Northern Capital"). In 1937 the Japanese seized control of the city when they invaded China, and it remained under occupation until the end of World War II (1939–45), with Chungking serving as the temporary Nationalist capital during the bitter warfare of that period. Beijing was retaken and held by the Kuomintang during the ensuing civil war, but the city finally fell to the Communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong (1893–1976) in January, 1949, and became the capital of the People's Republic of China the following October, regaining its former name and its position as the nation's political, cultural, and financial hub.
Under Mao's leadership, the city underwent modernization, as streets were widened, vestiges of imperial rule were demolished, and technical advisers from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) introduced examples of Soviet-style architecture. From 1966 to the late 1970s, life in Beijing, as elsewhere in China, was dramatically affected by the Cultural Revolution. Beijing's Tiananmen Square was the site of the 1976 demonstration, honoring deceased political leader Zhou Enlai, that marked the beginning of the end for this disastrous campaign of political repression.
For the final time in the twentieth century, Beijing's Tiananmen Square became the stage for a major political event, as the student-led pro-democracy movement was crushed there in the spring of 1989, accentuating the disparity between the country's economic reforms and its continuing level of political repression. Although China's human rights record continues to draw criticism from abroad and dissent at home, the economic liberalization of the past two decades has changed the face of its capital, with the construction of skyscrapers, the proliferation of the services and conveniences that characterize a modern consumer economy, and the exponential growth of tourism.
Although it has its own elected and appointed government officials, Beijing is one of three municipalities in China (the other two are Tientsin and Shanghai) that are ultimately under the control of the national government rather than the surrounding province (in the case of Beijing, this is Hebei Province). For administrative purposes, the urban and suburban parts of Beijing are divided into ten districts (ch'n; four urban and six suburban), and the surrounding rural areas of the municipality are divided into eight counties (hsien ).
The major governing body at the municipal level is the People's Congress of Beijing Municipality, which has budget, taxation, and administrative responsibilities. Its members also elect the officials of the executive branch. Known as the Beijing People's Government, it consists of a mayor, several vice mayors, and the heads of various bureaus. Each district has its own mayor, and within each district some civic duties are assumed at the neighborhood level as well.
As China's national capital, Beijing is also home to almost all major government institutions, including the National People's Congress and the State Council.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Beijing, but petty theft is common. Pickpockets like to target crowds, especially crowds of tourists, and grab bags and wallets, or use knives or razors to slit open bags and steal their contents.
Most crimes are handled by the Public Security Bureau, which apprehends, prosecutes, and sentences criminals. Beijing's districts have their own police jurisdictions, with a number of substations, or precincts, to each district. Crimes involving illegal drugs are prosecuted harshly.
Since the Communist revolution of 1949, Beijing has become one of the nation's industrial centers. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese government funded major development of heavy industry in the city, led by the modernization of the Shih-ching-shan Iron and Steel Works, which is now one of the country's major steel-producing facilities. Today Beijing ranks second only to Shanghai in industrialization, with highly developed machinery, textile, and petrochemical sectors. Agriculture also plays a significant role in Beijing's economy, with a large farming belt on the city's periphery serving to reduce its dependence on food supplies shipped in from the Yangtze Valley.
Beijing has a rapidly growing service sector, consisting mostly of government agencies. The People's Bank of China, the major institution in China's centralized banking system, has its head office in central Beijing, which is also home to a variety of specialized banks, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China. Other financial institutions in the city include major insurance companies, credit cooperatives, securities firms, and investment companies. Wholesale and retail commerce and tourism also play a major role in the city's economy.
The free-market economic reforms of the 1990s created an economic boom for Beijing with the influx of foreign capital and technology.
Like other cities throughout the world, Beijing has paid an environmental price for its twentieth-century economic and technological progress. The heavy industrialization introduced in the 1950s brought with it air pollution, which the government has addressed by relocating factories to the outskirts of the municipality and using natural gas instead of coal as a heating fuel. However, the growing number of motor vehicles in the city has created a new threat to Beijing's air quality. In response, the government has undertaken highway improvement programs in an effort to relieve traffic congestion, but the new roads have quickly become crowded as cars and taxis replace bicycles and buses. Growing consumer affluence and the corresponding increase in the use of modern appliances and other conveniences have led to increased energy use, as well as waste from disposable packaging.
Beijing's main shopping thoroughfare, Wangfujing Market Street, attracts some 100,000 customers every day. Anchored by the Beijing Department Store, its mostly state-operated retailers include other department stores, book-shops and other specialty stores, as well as the Dong'an Mall. Major additions and renovations are slated for completion around 2000. Although renovated in the 1980s, Liulichang Street still has the appearance of a market street from the Qing Dynasty. Its shops are known for their selection of antiques, rare books, calligraphy, and arts and crafts.
In the Qianmen district south of Tiananmen Square, street vendors sell foods, traditional Chinese medicine, and a colorful variety of consumer goods, from bamboo streamers to suitcases. Traditional markets, such as the Hongqiao Market and the Guanyuan Market, offer an eclectic selection of goods, ranging from food to furniture to songbirds. Another traditional shopping venue is the temple fair. Traditionally these fairs, featuring vendors and entertainment, were held at Beijing's temples during various religious festivals. The custom has been revived, but only during the Spring Festival.
Among the most popular items sought by visitors to China are antiques, carpets, silk products, furniture, jewelry, paintings, calligraphy, and porcelain.
The educational system in Beijing, as elsewhere in China, consists of six years of universal primary education and six years of secondary education. In addition, both the government and a number of private groups operate nurseries and kindergartens for younger children to make it easier for their mothers to work. The early years of primary education emphasize reading, writing, and arithmetic, with history, geography, and science added in the later years. There are three types of secondary schools: general middle schools, which offer college-preparatory courses; normal schools, which prepare students to attend teacher training colleges; and vocational and technical schools.
As home to both Beijing University and Qinghua University, Beijing is an important center for higher education in China. Beijing University, founded in 1898, was relocated from its original site in the central city to a new campus that has been significantly expanded to accommodate one of China's largest universities. With six schools, 31 departments, and 44 research centers, Qinghua University is China's premier technical institute and one of the country's major centers for scientific and technical research and development.
The northwestern edge of the city, home to both Beijing University and Qinghua University, has become a major educational and research district that is also home to the People's University of China, the Central Institute of Nationalities, the Beijing Normal College, the Beijing Medical College, and the Central Conservatory of Music, as well as institutes specializing in aeronautics, petroleum production, forestry, agriculture, and other fields.
13. Health Care
Medical education and practice in China combines Western medicine with traditional Chinese practices, notably the use of herbal medicine and acupuncture. Beijing's largest hospital is Capital Hospital, founded in 1921 as Beijing Union Hospital. Today it combines a general hospital with pediatric and gynecological clinics. Many hospitals have been built in Beijing since 1949; a large number are affiliated with medical schools as clinical teaching institutions. The city's major pediatric facility is the new Beijing Children's Hospital, located near the site of the Fuhsing Gate.
Beijing has a number of specialty hospitals, including facilities devoted to orthopedic, chest, plastic, and trauma-related surgery.
Two daily national newspapers are published in Beijing: Renmin Ribao (People's Daily ), the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, which had a 1998 circulation of approximately three million, and Gongren Ribao (Worker's Daily ), which had a 1998 circulation of approximately 2.5 million. Other major daily papers published in the capital (with 1998 circulation figures) are Nongmin Ribao (Peasant's Daily ; one million); Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth News ; one million); Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily ; 700,000); Beijing Wanbao (Beijing Evening News ; 800,000); and Guangming Ribao (Guangming Daily ; 950,000). China Daily is an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese government (1998 circulation 150,000), and the Economic Daily is a daily business paper.
Radio broadcasts are under the control of the Central People's Broadcasting Station (CPBS). Programs are aired in the official Chinese dialect of putonghua, as well as local dialects and minority ethnic languages. Two television stations (CCTV 1 and 2) are operated by Chinese Central Television, and three more are operated by Beijing Television (BTV).
Located in the eastern part of the city, the Beijing Workers' Stadium is China's largest sports facility, seating 80,000 for soccer (the country's most popular sport) and track and field events. Facilities for table tennis and other indoor games are available at the capital Gymnasium in western Beijing, which also accommodates an indoor ice rink for hockey and figure skating. The indoor sport of basketball has become quite popular among the Chinese in the winter months, and the country now has two professional basketball leagues. Martial arts retain their traditional popularity, with demonstrations provided at the Asian Games Village. Beijing also has a golf course and a racetrack, where spectators can place bets although other types of gambling are illegal in China.
Beijing's history as a gracious imperial city can be seen in its parks and outdoor recreational areas, which are more numerous than those in most other Chinese cities. The most centrally located is Chung-shan Park, adjacent to the west wall of Tiananmen Square. With pavilions, kiosks, and other structures scattered amid pools, flower gardens, willow trees, and bamboo, the park constitutes a characteristic Chinese garden landscape that includes a pavilion built over a lotus pond. This park is also the site of an ancient altar and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (formerly a religious shrine), which is over 500 years old—Beijing's oldest wooden building.
Ching-shan Park, also called Meishan (or Coal Hill) Park, extends over an artificial hill north of the Forbidden City. The park, which affords a dramatic view of the city, is also home to the educational and recreational facilities of the Beijing Children's Palace, located at its northern end. Half of Pei Hai Park's 71 hectares (176 acres) consist of water, making this park a favorite with rowers in summer and ice skaters in winter. A number of cultural and educational facilities, including the Beijing Library, are located within its boundaries.
The Summer Palace is the largest park on the outskirts of the city. K'unming Lake occupies four-fifths of the park's 324 hectares (800 acres), with the rest consisting of artificial landscaping. There are more than 100 buildings in the park, as well as elaborate covered promenades connecting its lakefront sites. The Beijing Zoological Gardens at the western edge of the city is China's largest zoo and is home to animals from all over China and the world. The zoo is especially famous for its giant panda bears.
Popular outdoor activities in Beijing include tennis, golf, miniature golf, badminton, squash, horseback riding, kite flying, martial arts, swimming, and the contemporary sport of paintball.
17. Performing Arts
Beijing has traditionally been the cultural and educational capital of China, a legacy that dates back to the Ming dynasty. The political upheavals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to a decline in the traditional Chinese arts, which reached a low point during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Since the late 1970s, however, government support for the arts has revived, and Beijing has become an active venue for both traditional Chinese and Western performing arts. Classical concerts by both Chinese and foreign artists can be heard at the Beijing Concert Hall, and the capital has its own symphony orchestra. The Central Ballet of China performs both foreign and Chinese works on several different stages. Chinese folk dance is performed by the Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble. The traditional Beijing Opera was revived in the 1990s although it has been popular primarily among China's older residents.
There are more than 25 theaters in Beijing, and theatrical presentations range from the works of British playwright William Shakespeare (1564– 1616) to American dramatist Arthur Miller (b. 1915) to contemporary avant garde Chinese works. The major theatrical venues are the Capital Theater and the Central Academy of Drama Experimental Theatre. The traditional performing arts of puppetry and acrobatics remain very popular.
The Beijing Library, located within Pei Hai Park, is home to the history collections of China's National Library, including material from imperial libraries dating back to the Sung, Ming, and Ch'ing dynasties. The collections include ancient books and manuscripts, maps, and rubbings from historic inscriptions. Since the late 1980s, the library's modern holdings have been housed in a new building at the western edge of the city.
Beijing's largest collection of artistic treasures—including stone and ivory carvings, enamel work, metal work, embroidery, and porcelain—is housed in the Palace Museum, located within the Imperial Palace. The original decor of many of the rooms has been preserved, constituting an additional artistic and historic attraction.
The artifacts in the Museum of Chinese History, located adjacent to Tiananmen Square, chart the progress of Chinese history over the past 4,000 years, from its ancient civilizations through its dynastic periods. Its collection includes thousands of artworks, relics, and scientific inventions. Located in one of its wings is the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, which traces the history of the Chinese Communist Party from its origins through the revolutionary and civil war periods leading up to 1949.
The China National Art Gallery displays traditional calligraphy and water-colors, as well as temporary exhibits of works by contemporary Chinese artists. Beijing also has museums devoted to military history, imperial archives, and natural history, as well as the China's first planetarium, with an adjacent observatory and meteorological station. The former residence of acclaimed author Lu Xun (1881–1936) has been turned into a museum, displaying photographs and documents related to his life.
In recent decades, Beijing's tourist industry has grown rapidly to become an important sector of the city's economy, thanks to the historical and cultural attractions of the central city itself and those found in outlying areas, such as the Great Wall, the tombs containing the remains of 13 of the 16 Ming emperors, and the sites where Beijing man and other prehistoric human remains have been found. The influx of visitors has spurred new hotel construction and the renovation of existing facilities.
International Working Women's Day
International Labor Day
International Children's Day
Anniversary of the Founding of the Chinese Communist Party
Dragon Boat Festival
Anniversary of the People's Liberation Army
21. Famous Citizens
Cao Zhan (1715–1763), author of China's most famous novel, Dream of the Red Chamber.
Deng Xiaoping (1904–1997), political leader.
Ding Ling (1904–1986), short story writer.
Lao She (1899–1966), satirical novelist.
Li Dazhou (1888–1927), co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party.
Lu Xun (1881–1936), author.
Mao Zedong (1893–1976), Chinese Communist leader.
Zhang Tianyi (b. 1907), short story writer and novelist.
Zhang Yimou (b. 1950), film director.
Zhou Enlai (1898–1976), Chinese premier.
Zhou Zuoren (1885–1996), essayist and scholar.
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China Travel System [Online] Available http://www.beijing.chinats.com (accessed December 30, 1999).
Excite Travel, "Destination: China." [Online] Available http://www.excite.cm/travel/countries/china/beijing (accessed December 30, 1999).
Ministry of Supervision
State Development and Planning Commission
38 Yuetannan Jie
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
China International Travel Service (CITS)
103 Fu Xing Men Nei Dajie
China Travel Service (CTS)
Beijing Tourist Building
28 Jianguomenwai Dajie, 100022
State Bureau of Tourism
Jian Guo Men Nei Dajie
15 Huixin Dongjie
Chaoyang District, 100029
61 Guxing Lu
2 Jin Tai Xi Lu
Baldwin, Robert F. Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Beijing. Illustrations by Ray Webb. Minneapolis: Runestone Press, 1999.
Cohn, Don, and Zhang Jingqing Beijingwalks. New York: H. Holt, 1992.
Elder, Chris, ed. Old Peking: City of the Ruler of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Lin, Yutang. Imperial Peking. New York: Crown Publishers, 1961.
Lindesay, William, and Wu Qi. Beijing. Lincoln-wood, IL: Passport Books, 1997.
Meyer, Jeffrey F. The Dragons of Tiananmen: Beijing as a Sacred City. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.
Salisbury, Harrison Evans. Tiananmen Diary: Thirteen Days in June. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.
Sit, Victor F.S. Beijing: The Nature and Planning of a Chinese Capital City. New York: Wiley, 1995.
Strand, David. Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.
Beijing (bā-jĬng) or Peking (pē-kĬng, pā–), city and independent municipality (2010 pop. 19,612,368), capital of the People's Republic of China. It is in central Hebei prov., but constitutes an independent unit (6,564 sq mi/17,000 sq km) administered directly by the national government. The second largest city in China (after Shanghai), Beijing is the political, cultural, and educational center of the country.
Economy and Transportation
Since the Communist victory in 1949, Beijing has become a great industrial area, the heart of a vast complex of textile mills, iron- and steelworks, railroad repair shops, machine shops, chemical plants, and factories manufacturing heavy machinery, electronic equipment, locomotives, plastics, synthetic fibers, and rolling stock. With the construction in the 1970s of a pipeline that links the city with the Daqing oil fields, Beijing has developed a sizable petrochemical industry. Service industries also grew. New industrial development declined in the 1970s and 80s, mainly due to concerns over further pollution. The city is a rail hub, receiving lines from all sections of the country and linked directly with Vietnam and, through both Mongolia and NE China, with Russia. Its airport, greatly expanded in 1999, links it to all major Chinese cities and numerous foreign countries.
Cultural and Educational Institutions
The city has an opera, a ballet, and the impressive national library. It is the seat of many learned societies, research organizations, and academies of fine arts, drama, dance, and music. The more than 25 institutions of higher learning include Beijing Univ., the People's Univ. of China, China Univ. of Science and Technology, Qinghua Univ., the Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages, two medical colleges, and many technical and scientific schools. The Beijing zoo is famous for its collection of pandas. The Workers' Stadium is the scene of the Pan-Chinese games, held every four years.
Points of Interest
Beijing in the main consists of two formerly walled districts, the Outer or Chinese City and the Inner or Tatar City. The 25 mi (40 km) of ramparts and monumental gates that once surrounded the cities have been razed and replaced by wide avenues to aid the traffic flow. Within the Tatar City is the Forbidden City (formerly the emperor's residence), the Imperial City (where his retinue was housed), and the Legation Quarter. The Imperial City is now the seat of the government.
On the southern edge of the Tatar City is Tiananmen Square, which contains the monument to the heroes of the revolution, the Great Hall of the People, and the vast National Museum of China. In June, 1989, the Square was the site of massive protests for democratic reform, which were violently suppressed by the military, resulting in thousands of deaths and many injuries. Near the Square is the National Center for the Performing Arts.
Beijing is known for its artificial lakes and for its parks and temples. It contains many of the greatest examples of architecture of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties as well as remains from earlier times. The Temple of Heaven (15th cent.) is set in a large park and has a massive altar of white marble before which the emperors prayed at the summer solstice. In the temple of Confucius, built by Kublai Khan, are guarded incised boulders that date from the Chou dynasty. An ancient astronomical observatory, once used by Catholic missionaries, still functions. The Forbidden City, now a vast museum, contains the imperial palaces (two groups of three each) and smaller palaces, all replete with art treasures. To the northwest of the city's historic center is the imperial summer palace with its lovely parks, and to the north are the grounds of the 2008 Olympic Games, with the National Stadium (nicknamed Bird's Nest), National Aquatics Center (Water Cube), and other facilities.
In addition to the many tourist attractions in the city, the Great Wall and the gigantic Ming tombs are easily accessible. At nearby Zhoukoudian were discovered several fossil bones of so-called Peking man, now classified as Homo erectus remains.
Since 723 BC several cities, bearing various names, have existed at this site. The nucleus of the present city was Kublai Khan's capital, Cambuluc (constructed 1260–90). Under the name Beijing [Chin.,=northern capital] the city was the capital of China from 1421 until 1911. The gateway to Mongolia and Manchuria, it was often the prize of contending armies.
In 1860, Great Britain and France captured it after the battle of Baliqiao and forced the Chinese government to concede the Legation Quarter for foreign settlements. This cession was among the factors responsible for the Boxer Uprising (1900), in which the foreign colony was besieged until relieved by a combined expeditionary force of American, Japanese, and European troops. The foreign powers exacted a treaty that provided for the permanent garrisoning of foreign troops in Beijing.
The city changed hands repeatedly during the civil wars that followed the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1911–12. From 1912 to 1927, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hankou alternated as centers of government. In 1928, when the seat of government was transferred to Nanjing [Chin.,=southern capital], the name Beiping (Pei-p'ing) [Chin.,=northern peace] was adopted. Japan occupied the city after the famous Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937 (see Sino-Japanese War, Second). The Japanese made the city the capital of a puppet state (Dec., 1937).
With the end of World War II and the abolition of the last foreign concessions (1946), the city was entirely restored to Chinese sovereignty. In Jan., 1949, it fell to the Communists, who later that year designated it the capital of the newly founded People's Republic of China and restored the name Beijing. Since 1949 Beijing has spread well beyond its two core cities, and newer buildings, hotels, and cultural centers are now common in the city and its suburbs. From the 1950s through the 1970s many of the inner city's beautiful and historical buildings and gates were destroyed as Mao decreed that large new government structures be built. A subway was completed in 1969 and since has been extended. More recently, the government has attempted to restore and preserve many of the country's important artistic and architectural works, many of which are in Beijing, but modern construction in the city also has increased since the 1990s, resulting in the loss of most of the traditional neighborhoods (hutongs, alleys lined with courtyard houses), that once dominated Beijing. Many of the city's outstanding new buildings have been designed by prominent Western architects, e.g., Sir Norman Foster, Herzog and de Meuron, Rem Koolhaas, I. M. Pei Associates, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Beijing hosted the 2008 summer Olympics. The city has experienced enormous population growth in the early 21st cent., mainly as a result of the influx of Chinese from rural areas.
See R. MacFarquhar, The Forbidden City (1972); Zhou Shachen, Beijing—Old and New (1984); P. Fleming, The Siege at Peking (1986); W. Hung, Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space (2005); M. Meyer, The Last Days of Old Beijing (2008); G. R. Barmé, The Forbidden City (2008); W. Jun, Beijing Record: A Physical and Political History of Planning Modern Beijing (2003, tr. 2011).