Beijing, formerly known as Peking, is the Capital of the People’s Republic of China and is one of the most populous cities in the world. It is located in the northern region of China and is a direct controlled municipality. Beijing, the political, educational and cultural capital of the country, ranks second amongst the largest cities of the country by urban population, after Shanghai. This city is home to the headquarters of major state-owned companies and is also an important transportation hub with a huge network of highways, railways, expressways, etc, which connect this city to various parts of China and the rest of the world. Beijing, renowned for temples and tourist spots, has a significant place in country’s cultural map. This city has been the cultural and political center of China for centuries. Beijing, which is home to many World Heritage Sites, enjoys a significant place in China’s tourism and economy. Read the following section to know more interesting facts about Beijing.
Language(s) Spoken: Standard Chinese, Mandarin
Districts: 14 (and 2 counties)
Area: Municipality: 16,801.25 sq. km
Population: Municipality: 19,612,368 (as of 2010)
Interesting And Fun Facts About Beijing
- Beijing, the capital city of the People’s Republic of China, is one of the most populous cities in the world. The city consists of 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties.
- The earliest record of Beijing is obtained from the travel notes by Marco Polo, the young Italian traveler of 13th century. He described the civilized people and their well organised lives in Beijing.
- Beijing is not the first name this city has ever had. It was known by several names before it took its present name. The old names of the city are Ji, Yanjing, Youzhou, Fanyang, Guangyang, Nanjing, Dadu (Daidu), Zhongdu, Khanbaliq (Cambaluc) and Beiping.
- The Chinese phrase “Four Great Ancient Capitals of China” refers to Beijing. The city has been the cultural, educational and economic center of China for centuries.
- Beijing was made China’s capital city in 1949, when the Communist Party of China founded People’s Republic of China.
- Beijing is formed by two Chinese characters ‘bei’ (北) which implies north and ‘jing’ (京) which implies capital. Thus, the literal meaning of the word Beijing is “Northern Capital”.
- Beijing is located at the northern tip North China Plain, with mountains to the north, northwest and west sides, which protect the city and the agricultural regions of the Northern China from the encroaching desert.
- Beijing is renowned for a large number of temples, opulent palaces and huge stone walls and gates. The city has a significant place in China’s tourism.
- The caves of Dragon Bone Hill in Fangshan District, home to the ‘Peking Man’, give the earliest traces of human habitation in this area.
- Beijing is the northern terminus of the Grand Canal of China, which extends from the North China Plain to Hangzhou.
- The major rivers flowing through Beijing are Yongding and Chaobai. The river Chaobai is a part of the famous Hai River system of China.
- Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics games with an official logo “Dancing Beijing”. With 51 gold medals in tow, Chinese athletes won the maximum number of gold medals in 2008 Olympics.
- Beijing’s Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic.
- Beijing was the first postindustrial city in mainland China and is home to 41 Fortune Global 500 companies, being the second city in terms of number of companies, after Tokyo.
- Beijing opera or Peking opera is a traditional form of Chinese theatre which is considered as one of the highest achievements of Chinese culture. This art form consists of a combination of song, spoken dialogue and codified action sequences.
- Fuling Jiabing is a popular traditional Beijing snack made from Fu ling, a fungus which is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- The Forbidden City, the huge palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, is located at the heart of Beijing. It contains imperial collections of Chinese art.
- Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), a UNESCO World Heritage Center located in southeastern Beijing, is a famous temple where Ming and Qing emperors had offered prayers for good harvest.
- Other major temples are Temple of Earth (Ditan), Temple of the Sun (Ritan), Temple of the Moon (Yuetan), Dongyue Temple, Tanzhe Temple, Miaoying Temple, White Cloud Temple, Yonghe Temple, Wanshou Temple, Fayuan Temple, Big Bell Temple and Confucius Temple.
- There is the “Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception” which was built in 1605, which is the oldest Catholic Church in Beijing. The Niujie mosque, built around thousand years back, is the oldest mosque in the city.
- Beijing is home to numerous well-preserved pagodas, including some stone pagodas. The towering Pagoda of Tianning Temple and the Pagoda of Cishou Temple being the most popular ones.
- The Beijing zoo is home to endangered animals like the Chinese giant panda.
- Imperial tombs of the Ming and Qing dynasties, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, consist of thirteen tombs of kings from the Ming dynasty.
- Siheyuans are special types of residences specific to Beijing. Such houses have a common courtyard which is shared by the surrounding buildings. Residence of Soong Ching-ling and the Prince Gong Mansion are examples of this type of architecture.
- Beijing has evolved as the most important transport hub in China. It has a huge network of roads, railways and expressways.
- A special feature of Beijing is the large number of bicycles seen on its streets. Bicycle is a popular medium of transport in Beijing even in the boom of motor vehicles.
- According to the city’s official census of 2006, 10.35% of the population is named Wang, making it the most common surname in Beijing.
- Beijing is the second-largest direct-controlled municipality in China, Chongqing being the largest.
- A considerable majority of Beijing’s population belongs to the Han Chinese group. Manchu, Hui and Mongol are minority ethnic groups in the city.