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Following the successful hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is investing billions into becoming an economic powerhouse. Beijing is a fascinating urban destination for tourists keen to immerse themselves in China's long and colourful history and culture - and its unique, vibrant take on city living, 21st century style.
The frenetic building activity is creating a bold and stylish new Beijing that will surprise even if you have visited just two years ago. However, old Beijing is still to be found and is easily explored in the teahouses and temples, the hutongs and courtyards - and the many museums.
In no other capital on Earth can you enjoy such a wide variety of gourmet restaurants. Beijing offers excellent value dishes from all of China's eight regional styles of cuisine, not to mention korean, thai, japanese and all manner of western dishes too.
Beijing China World
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The History of Beijing
Human activity in the Beijing area dates back around half a million years, to when 'Peking Man' lived in ZhouKouDian, in what is now the southwestern suburbs of today's Beijing. The climate at that time was warmer and more humid than it is today so forests and lakes in the area supported a wide variety of life.
The fossil remains of Peking Man, his stone tools and evidence of the use of fire, as well as later tools of around 18,000 years ago, such as bone needles and articles of adornment from the age known as 'Upper Cave Man' are the earliest cultural relics on record in China today. Indeed, they are among the earliest in the world.
'BeiJing' literally means 'north capital', following the common east asian tradition whereby capital cities are explicitly named as such. Another Chinese city similarly named is NanJing, meaning 'south capital'. At various times in history, the capital was declared to be NanJing rather than BeiJing, according to whether the then current powerbase lay to the north or south of China.
'YanJing' is another popular informal name for Beijing, a reference to the ancient State of Yan that existed here during the Zhou Dynasty. For example, there is the locally brewed 'Yanjing Beer'.
Size and Location
China is bordered by the countries of Indochina to the south, has Russia and Mongolia to the north, rising-star India to the south west, and Korea and Japan to the east.
Today, Beijing City covers an area of about 7,000 square kilometers spanning 38 kilometers from ShiJingShan in the west to TongXian in the east.
Beijing is China's second largest city in terms of population, after Shanghai.
Beijing is widely recognized as the political, educational and cultural center of China, whereas Shanghai and Hong Kong predominate in the economic field.
Beijing Municipality is centered on Beijing City and is equivalent to a province in China's administrative structure. The population is about 16 million of which about 11 million have permanent resident status.
Beijing is an independently administered municipal district, situated in the northeastern part of China at an average elevation of 43m above sea level. Beijing municipality is centered around the capital city and has a total area of 17,000 sq km (about 6,500 square miles), stretchingometres from north to south.
Beijing Municipality borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south and, for a small section, in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.
The 38 kilometer long Chang'An (Eternal
Peace) Boulevard that runs from east to west through
central Beijing concentrates on state, political and
economic affairs. The central areas around the Palace
Museum (Forbidden City) and city gates, as well as the
lakes - ZhongNanHai, BeiHai and HouHai - have been
designated as protected landmark districts that retain
the features of Old Beijing.
Following economic reforms, Beijing has evolved to be an important transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and expressways entering and leaving in all directions. It is also the focal point of many international flights to China.
Sadly, although it was probably necessary, most of Beijing's city wall was removed between 1965 and 1969 to make way for the construction of the 2nd Ring Road.
The traffic network now consists of six concentric ringroads (the outer four are expressways), 28 radial roads (9 express ways), and both underground and suburban railways that are being further developed to improve links from the center with outlying areas and surrounding towns, plus several long distance railway routes and an international airport.
Following the economic reforms of Deng XiaoPing, the urban area of Beijing expanded greatly. Formerly within the confines of the 3rd Ring Road, the urban area of Beijing is now pushing at the boundary of the recently-constructed 5th Ring Road and even the 6th Ring Road that is currently under construction. Many areas of Beijing that were formerly farmland have now been developed into residential or commercial neighborhoods, although a mandatory level of green space is actively preserved.
Tourism in Beijing
Beijing's time zone is UTC/GMT +8 hours.
The whole of China shares the same time
zone. There is no daylight saving time (or 'summer time')
at the moment.
Distances from Beijing
The following table shows the distance to various cities in and just outside China.
The beautiful Beihai Park in central Beijing.
Beijing is liberally forested and contains many parks, big and small, and its green commitment has put in place many measures to limit pollution and further improve the environment.
For example, in 2005, 8,000 outdated taxi cars and 2,000 buses were phased out and replaced with vehicles meeting newly promulgated, more rigid state standards for pollution control.
New subway lines could make Beijing's subway the world's largest by 2020.
Already with many large parks, Beijing's green space has been increased further in recent years making it a beautiful city in which to live or visit.
The economy of Beijing has changed dramatically over the years. Traditionally, the city was primarily an administrative and cultural center, partly because of its distance from the country's key economic areas in the south, around the YangTze river valley and the Pearl river delta. However, from 1949 it also developed rapidly as an industrial and manufacturing city.
Today, Beijing is one of the most developed cities in China. It is now a post-industrial city with the tertiary sector accounting for at least 75% of its GDP. In 2008, Beijing's primary, secondary and tertiary industries were worth 11 billion RMB, 270 billion RMB, and 770 billion RMB.
In 2008, Beijing's nominal GDP was USD$ 150 billion, an increase of 9% on 2007, a growth rate that has peaked at 13% per year over the last 10 years. Its GDP per capita was 63,000 RMB ($ 9,000 USD), an increase of 5.2% from 2007. Disposable income per capita in 2008 was 25,000 RMB for urban residents and 11,000 RMB for rural residents; a year-on-year increase in both cases of 12.4%.
The rise in disposable income has seen a boom in the retail sector. Five of the world’s six largest malls are currently in China, and one of the top two is in in Beijing, plus about 100 others. Retail space almost doubled from 2005 to 2008, to well over 10 million square meters (counting only developments with a size of 10,000 square meters and greater). Beijing has nearly half a million retail stores and there are more than one thousand chain-store brands operating in the city (retail and catering), including some internationally famous brands. Car sales have also mushroomed.
Finance is one of the most important parts of the economy; with the number of financial institutions in Beijing fast approaching 1,000, finance is a major component of the GDP in the city - about 15%. Insurance is also a fast developing sector. The service and real-estate sectors are also growing strongly, as are the media, information and creative sectors.
Beijing has a wealth of cultural interests and tourism is becoming an ever more important source of income. In 2008 it accounted for about 7% of Beijing's GDP.
Though relatively small in scale, primary industry in Beijing is diverse in nature and composed of a mix of large, medium and small-sized enterprises; it remains an important part of the economy. Automotive, electronics, construction and high-tech industries have played a key role in promoting economic development. These activities have boosted exports and the significance of international trade in Beijing's economy.
Outside of the city, in the rural areas of Beijing municipality, agriculture remains significant, and is increasingly efficient.
Beijing has invested heavily in infrastructure and enjoys quite a high level of investment from overseas, mostly in the form of joint ventures. Beijing now has numerous technology research and development parks; innovation in technology will be a key driver of economic growth in the near future. Beijing will also focus on energy conservation and emissions reduction, improving both people's livelihood and environment, and constructing a resources-conserving society.
The Central Business District (CBD) is
centered on the GuoMao area and is home to a variety of
regional corporate headquarters, shopping malls and
high-end housing. The 'Financial Street', in the
FuXingMen and FuChengMen areas, is a traditional
financial center, and today a glimmering array of steel and glass skyscrapers. WangFuJing, ChongWenMen and XiDan are major shopping
zones. ZhongGuanCun, often dubbed 'China's Silicon
Valley', remains a center for electronics and
computer-related industries (as well as retail).
Beijing is home to a large number of colleges and universities (about 160), including a number of highly-regarded universities of international stature, including China's two most prestigious institutions: Peking University and TsingHua University. Other well known institutions, both domestically and internationally, include Beijing Normal University, RenMin (People's) University of China and Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Owing to Beijing's status as the
political and cultural capital of China, a larger
proportion of tertiary-level institutions are
concentrated here than any other place in China, reaching
at least 60 in number. Many international students from
Japan, Korea, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and
elsewhere come to Beijing to study every year - a growing
trend, especially among Western students. At the same
time, there has been a big increase in the number of
Chinese studying abroad.
shift from exports, manufacturing and inward investment towards higher-end manufacturing and services. from labor to know-how, skills and capital. In what will be like a second industrialisation, research and development is a key factor. innovation. such as green technology. 5 trillion yuan (US$758.4 billion. space walk.world's largest high-speed rail system. 'made in China' to 'created in China'. Education students in Shanghai trounced the OECD averages in reading, mathematics and science. China already has 1,160 research institutes, producing 2 million engineering and science graduates; that is four times as many as in the year 2000. Patents.
People native to urban Beijing speak the Beijing dialect, which belongs to the Mandarin subdivision of spoken Chinese. Beijing dialect provides the basis for Standard Mandarin, the standard Chinese language used in the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore.
A romanised script of Chinese called Pinyin is widely used next to the traditional Chinese script on signs of all types, including place names.
is a major drive for people to learn english and younger,
educated people often speak it well. You will always find
staff in hotels who can speak english. In other places,
such as restaurants, this may not be the case, but there
is usually someone nearby who will be happy to help.
The Summer Olympics began in Beijing on August 8th 2008 (08,08,08) - at 8pm (8 being a 'lucky' number to Chinese people). This helped speed up the rate of change in Beijing so that there is now a fascinating mix of old and new, and cultural traditions rub shoulders with a new dynamism.
A Tribute to the Beijing 2008 Olympics
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Beijing Travel Tips
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