As you first look upon the Great Wall, it is impossible not to be awestruck at this man-made structure. Construction started in the 7th century BC, with additions and rebuilding continuing until the 16th century AD. The Great Wall was built to keep out the warring invaders of the north, but additional sections were extended eastward for nearly 6,700 kilometres. The Badaling section is the most well preserved section of the Wall. You can climb to its top and walk for a mile in either direction: the Great Wall snakes ahead though the mountains as far as you can see.
China is situated in eastern Asia, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean. It has a total area of 9.6 million km². China’s territory stretches about 5,000 km from east to west, or a total of 60 degrees of longitude. From north to south, the distance is about 5,500 km, or about 50 degrees of latitude. China’s land boundary is 22,800 km long, including a coastline of 18,000 km. In China’s vast sea territory, there are 6,536 islands and island groups. Hainan Island has an area of 34,380 km².
China is the most populous country in the world. The census taken on April 11, 1989, showed the population of the Chinese mainland had exceeded 1.1 billion. In China’s 432 cities, the urban population totals over 300 million. Promotion of a birth control program among the people is a fundamental policy of the nation, and the “one-child per family” is encouraged.
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. The nation is divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions and three municipalities directly under the central government (Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin). There are altogether 2,800 counties (including cities and districts under the jurisdiction of a city).
China has long been a unified multi-national nation. There are 56 nationalities. Apart from the majority Han people, there are 55 minority nationalities, including the Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyei, Koran and Manchu Peoples. Article 4 of China’s Constitution stipulates: “All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal. The state protects the lawful rights and interests of the minority nationalities and upholds and develops the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among all of China’s nationalities.
The so-called three great religions of the world – Buddhism, Islam and Christianity – all find their adherents in China, though a great number of people are non-believers. Buddhism is the most prevalent religion, which originated in China, and has followers mainly among the Han nationality. The state protects the freedom of religious beliefs of its citizens.
China’s school enrollment at all levels amounts to over 180 million. The country’s 1,075 colleges and universities have a total enrollment of over 2 million students.
China has over 205,988 medical institutions with some 2.5 million beds and over 4.6 million medical personnel. Employees in government offices and state-run enterprises, members of the People’s Liberation Army and students of higher education institutions all enjoy free medical care. A cooperative medical system operates widely in rural areas.
The Forbidden City (the Palace Museum)
In the heart of the capital lies the Forbidden City, built during the Ming dynasty in 1406. The Forbidden City is actually a city-within-a-city; with 9999 rooms spread over 250 acres. During the Ming and Qing dynasty, 24 emperors made their home in the Forbidden City and forbade commoners from entering. The Emperor’s Palace has been transformed into a museum that holds many treasures of the Imperial Family.