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China -> BEIJING
BEIJING  
Beijing Municipality

Beijing lies in the northern part of China and serves as the nation’s capital - but Beijing has a long history of prominence since it was first settled in 1000BC. Centuries of conquering and reconquering by Manchus, Mongols, and by Genghis Khan himself, have left Beijing (literally “northern capital”) with a list of impressive names: Peking (adopted by French missionaries), Yanjing (“Capital of Yan”), Zhongdu (“Central Capital”), Dadu (“Great Capital”), and Beiping (“Northern Peace”) when the capital shifted south to Nanjing. During the Ming Dynasty in the 1400s, the capital was moved back north where it regained the name Beijing. It was during the Ming Dynasty that some of Beijing’s most famous structures were built. The Forbidden City sits at the nucleus of the city,yet its beautiful Imperial architecture kept the Emperor completely closed off from his people. The Temple of Heaven was also built during the Ming period and its location was where they believed heaven and Earth met.

When the Qing Dynasty took over in 1644, they left the Ming structures relatively unchanged. It was during this period that many more temples, pagodas, and summer palaces were built in the growing city. Most of the buildings on the Summer Palace’s sprawling grounds date to the Qing Dynasty when the imperial family would use this home to escape to the shores of Kunming Lake. While the Old Summer Palace was burnt to the ground by Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium War, you can still walk among its silent ruins and feel its magnitude. The next century would continue to be full of chaos and turmoil for Beijing as it changed hands between Western powers, the Boxers, General Yuan Shikai, warlords, invasion by the Japanese, and Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang.

That all ended in 1949 when Mao Zedong led the People’s Liberation Army into Beijing and declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China. The Kuomintang was forced to retreat to Taiwan, but not before taking palace treasures and gold with them. The government mobilized its people and began major renovation on the ragged city. Amid the destruction and terror of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution it is amazing that so many pieces of China’s history remain in Beijing. Under the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, Beijing underwentvast modernization. Wide boulevards take you to the expansive Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu. Or you can visit the colossal Olympic Park where the 2008 Summer Olympics were held. Have a hankering for whole scorpions or seahorses on a stick? Take a walk down Wangfujing Road and sample the exotic delicacies of the famous Donghuamen Night Market. Whatever you are looking for, Beijing has the biggest and best of everything.





BEIJING by the Numbers

Capital: Beijing
Area: 9,596,960 sq. km. / 3,705,407 sq. mi. Rank: World = 4th / Asia = 1st
Population: 1,298,847,624 Rank: World = 1st / Asia = 1st
Total Road Network: 1,765,222 km. / 1,096,858 mi. Rank: World = 3rd / Asia = 2nd
Total Rail Lines: 60,627 km. / 37,671 mi. Rank: World = 4th / Asia = 2nd
Air Passengers Carried: 86,041,000 Rank: World = 3rd / Asia = 2nd
Telephone Mainlines (per 1,000 people): 209 Rank: World = 53rd / Asia = 4th
Mobile Phones (per 1,000 people): 215 Rank: World = 66th / Asia = 8th

Source(s): World Bank, <>

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