Fast Facts:

Area: 16,800 sq km (6552 sq mi)

Population: 13 million

People: 95% Han Chinese ethnicity

Main language: Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua)

Time zone: Beijing Standard Time (GMT +8 hours)

Telephone area code: 010

 

Beijing is the capital city of the People's Republic of China. It is also the nation's political and cultural hub (known as the Art Capital of China). Additionally, it is the focal point for the country's transportation, scientific and technological development, education and communication. Its present-day population is thirteen million with a transient population of circa three million, making it the second largest city in China.

Beijing History

Dated from around 1000 BC, Beijing developed as a frontier trading town for the Mongols, Koreans and tribes from Shandong and central China. Beijing has a history of more than 3,000 years but for only c.850 years has it been the Chinese capital, the Jin (1115-1234), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties as well as the present day Republic of China all making Beijing China’s capital city. King Wu was the first to declare Beijing the capital city in 1057 BC. 

 

The city has been ransacked and burnt to the ground many times, notably by Genghis Khan in 1215 AD, with the subsequently rebuilt city being passed down to Kublai Khan (Genghis’ grandson), becoming known as Dadu (Great Capital). In 1368, the city was renamed Beiping (northern peace) after an uprising led by the mercenary Zhu Yanhang, ending the Yuan Dynasty and bringing in the successful Ming Dynasty. However, for the next 35 years the capital was relocated to the south of China, to Nanjing.

 

In the early 1400s Emperor Yong Le decided to return the court back to Beiping and renamed it Beijing (Northern Capital). It was during the reign of Yong Le that many of the beautiful architecture like the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven were built. In the 17th century, the Manchu invaded and established the Qing Dynasty and as a result Beijing was renovated and expanded. 

 

In the last 120 years of the Qing Dynasty, Beijing and China were subjected to power struggles, invaders and chaos created by those who held or sought power, starting with the Opium Wars and ending with the Japanese invasion of China and the subsequent civil war between Mao Zedong’s Communist Party and Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalists.

 

In 1949 Mao Zedong's proclaimed the modern day 'People's Republic of China' in Tiananmen Square, which saw the beginning of a 25year period which witnessed much of Beijing’s ancient cultural identity being sadly stripped away. Since the 1980’s the Chinese government has worked hard at replacing these lost icons and modernising Beijing with notable success.

Beijing City

Beijing City is an independently administered municipal district, situated in the north eastern part of China at an elevation of 43.5m above sea level.

 

Beijing has four distinct seasons. Spring, from mid-March to mid-May, is mild, although sometimes dust storms strike the city. Summer, from mid-May to mid-September, is both dry and rather hot, and subject to heavy rains in July and August. Beijing's "Golden Autumn," from mid-September to mid-November, is also pretty dry, with mild days and chilly nights. The long winter, from mid-November to mid-March, can be bitterly cold with Siberian winds, ice, and increased air pollution (due to increased burning of coal for heating); however, with little snowfall the skies are often clear and take the colour of classic sky blue.

The average annual temperature amounts to 13 (averaging 25.2 in July, the hottest month, and -3.7 in January, the coldest month). It is very hot in daytime in summer and very cold in deep winter. The annual precipitation comes to 600mm and the frost-free period lasts 189 days.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Temperature
(Celsius)
-4.6 -2.2 4.5 13.1 19.8 24.0 25.8 24.4 19.4 12.4 4.1 -2.7
Rainfall (cm) 3.0 7.4 8.6 19.4 33.1 77.8 192.5 212.3 57.0 24.0 6.6 2.6
Days of rainfall 2.0 3.1 4.1 4.6 5.9 9.7 14.1 13.2 6.8 5.0 3.7 1.6

Tourism in Beijing

Beijing is a major force in China tourism, accounting for a quarter of the country's tourism income and number of visitors. With approximately 90 million domestic visitors and their estimated USD $6 billion expenditures tourism accounts for a third of the output value of the municipality's service sector and 15 percent of its gross domestic product.

Beijing is world-famous for its trove of historical sites and enchanting natural scenery, making it a compelling travel destination. It offers a staggering array of attractions including the resplendent Forbidden City; the majestic Tiananmen Square (the world's largest public square); the grand meandering Great Wall, and Beihai Park (Beijing's oldest imperial garden). It's a remarkable city offering an abundance of ancient and modern architecture, temples, gardens, and museums and a variety of colorful local flavors and customs.

No other city in China offers the range of accommodations Beijing does. There are enormous numbers of four and five-star hotels in convenient locations throughout the city. Beijing is also a food-lovers' dream. It is difficult to imagine a city with more restaurants per square kilometer or a more exhaustive variety of Chinese and foreign cuisines. There is also no shortage of entertainment with the Beijing Opera, Beijing Concert Hall, acrobatic troupes, and teahouses being popular choices.

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