Beijing, sometimes romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. The population as of 2010 was 19,612,368. The metropolis, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government, with 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties. Sony PCG-71313M battery Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.
Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation's political, cultural, and educational center. It is home to the headquarters of most of China's largest state-owned companies, and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger trafficSony PCG-71212M battery.
Few cities in the world have been the political and cultural center of an area as immense for so long. Beijing is one of the "Four Great Ancient Capitals of China" and has been the political center of China for centuries. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, gardens, tombs, walls and gates, and its art treasures and universities have made it a center of culture and art in ChinaSony PCG-71311M battery.
Over the past 3,000 years, the city has held many names. Beijing – from the Chinese characters 北 for north and 京 for capital – means the "Northern Capital". The name used during the Ming Dynasty, when the Yongle Emperor restored it as a dual capital and distinguished it from Nanjing (the "Southern Capital"). The name was restored again upon the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949Sony PCG-71213M battery. The English spelling is based on the pinyin romanization of the two characters as they are pronounced in Standard Mandarin.
An older English spelling, Peking, is the Postal Map Romanization of the same characters based upon the Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries. These dialects preserve the Middle Chinese form of 京 as kjaeng, prior to a phonetic shift in the northern dialects to the modern pronunciation. Sony PCG-61211M battery
In Chinese, the one-character abbreviation of Beijing is "京", which appears on automobile licence plates in the city. In the Latin alphabet, the official abbreviation consists of the two initials of the region's characters: "BJ".
The earliest traces of human habitation in the Beijing municipality were found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where Peking Man lived. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years agoSony VAIO VPCF24Q1E battery. Paleolithic homo sapiens also lived there more recently, about 27,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found neolithic settlements throughout the municipality including Wangfujing in downtown Beijing.
The first walled city in Beijing was Ji, a city-state from the 11th to 7th century BC. Within modern Beijing, Ji was located south of the present Beijing West Railway Station. This settlement was later conquered by the state of Yan and made its capital under the name YanjingSony VAIO VPCF13M1E/H battery.
The Tianning Pagoda, built around 1120.
After the fall of the Yan during the Warring States period, the early imperial dynasties continued to employ the city as the prefectural capital of the area under various names. During the Three Kingdoms period, it was held by Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao before falling to Wei. The AD 3rd-century Western Jin demoted the town, placing the prefectural seat elsewhereSony VAIO VPCF12Z1E/BI battery, and the Wu Hu emperors of the various "Yan" dynasties of the Sixteen Kingdoms similarly chose other locations for their capitals.
The site was revived by the many canals dug by the Sui dynasty to provision Emperor Yang's otherwise disastrous invasion of Korea. Youzhou was a major headquarters under the Tang and, as Fanyang, it was briefly the capital of the Great Yan during the 8th-century An Shi Rebellion. By 936, the Later Jin Dynasty was forced to cede the entire region to the Khitan Liao dynastySony VAIO VPCF12S1E/B battery. Two years later, the Liao established a secondary capital at the site, which they called Nanjing (their "Supreme Capital" of Shangjing was located near the modern Baarin Left Banner in Inner Mongolia). Some of the oldest surviving structures in Beijing date to the Liao period, including the Tianning Pagoda.
The Liao fell to the Jurchen Jin dynasty in the 12th century and the Jin moved their capital to Nanjing in 1153Sony VAIO VPCF13Z8E/BI battery, renaming it Zhongdu, the "Central Capital".The city was besieged by Genghis Khan's invading Mongolian army in 1213 and razed to the ground in two years later. Two generations later, Kublai Khan ordered the creation of Dadu (or Daidu to the Mongols, commonly known as Khanbaliq), was completed in 1293., a new capital for his Yuan dynasty to be located adjacent to the Jin ruinsSony VAIO VPCF13Z8E battery. The construction took from 1264 to 1293, but greatly enhanced the status of a city on the northern fringe of China proper. The city was centered on the Drum Tower slightly to the north of modern Beijing and stretched from the present-day Chang'an Avenue to the Line 10 subway. Remnants of the Yuan packed earth wall still stand and are known as the Tucheng. Sony VAIO VPCF13M1E/B battery
Detail from a 1682 Italian map displaying the region of "Peking" and the capital city of "Peking or Shuntian" (Xuntieu).
In 1368, soon after declaring the new Hongwu era of the Ming Dynasty, the rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang sent an army to Khanbaliq and burnt it to the ground. Since the Yuan continued to occupy Shangdu and Mongolia, however, a new town was established to supply the military garrisons in the area. Sony VAIO VPCF1318E/H batteryThis was called Beiping and under the Hongwu Emperor's feudal policies it was given to Zhu Di, one of his sons, who was created "Prince of Yan".
One of the corner towers of the Forbidden City.
The early death of Zhu Yuanzhang's heir led to a succession struggle on his death, one that ended with the victory of Zhu Di and the declaration of the new Yongle era. Since his harsh treatment of the Ming capital Yingtian alienated many there, he established his fief as a new co-capital. The city of Beiping became Shuntian – now Beijing in 1403Sony VAIO VPCF13J0E/H battery. The construction of the new imperial residence, the Forbidden City, took from 1406 to 1420; this period was also responsible for several other of the modern city's major attractions, such as the Temple of Heaven and Tian'anmen (although the square facing it was not cleared until 1651). When everything was completed in 1421, Beijing became the empire's primary capital (Jingshi) and Yingtian – now called Nanjing – lost much of its importanceSony VAIO VPCF13E8E battery. (A 1425 order by Zhu Di's son, the Hongxi Emperor, to return the capital to Nanjing was never carried out: he died, probably of a heart attack, the next month. He was buried, like almost every Ming emperor to follow him, in an elaborate necropolis to Beijing's north.)
By the 15th century, Beijing had essentially taken its current shape. The Ming city wall continued to serve until modern times, when it was pulled down and the 2nd Ring Road was built in its place. Sony VAIO VPCF13E4E batteryIt is generally believed that Beijing was the largest city in the world for most of the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The first known church was constructed by Catholics in 1652 at the former site of Matteo Ricci's chapel; the modern Nantang Cathedral was later built upon the same site.
The capture of Beijing by Li Zicheng's peasant army in 1644 ended the dynasty, but he and his Shun court abandoned the city without a fight when the Manchu army of Prince Dorgon arrived 40 days laterSony VAIO VPCF12M1E/H battery.
Dorgon established the Qing Dynasty as a direct successor of the Ming (delegitimizing Li Zicheng and his followers) and Beijing became China's sole capital. The Qing emperors made some modifications to the Imperial residence but, in large part, the Ming buildings and the general layout remained unchanged. Facilities for Manchu worship were introduced, but the Qing also continued the traditional state rituals. Signage was bilingual or ChineseSony VAIO VPCF12F4E/H battery. This early Qing Beijing later formed the setting for the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
A postcard displaying one of the imperial palaces, c. 1900.
During the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces captured the city, looting and burning the Old Summer Palace in 1860. Under the Convention of Peking ending that war, Western powers for the first time secured the right to establish permanent diplomatic presences within the city. In 1900, the attempt by the "Boxers" to eradicate this presenceSony VAIO VPCF12E1E/H battery, as well as Chinese Christian converts, led to Beijing's reoccupation by foreign powers. During the fighting, several important structures were destroyed, including the Hanlin Academy and the (new) Summer Palace.
The fomenters of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 sought to replace Qing rule with a republic and leaders like Sun Yat-sen originally intended to return the capital to Nanjing. After the Qing general Yuan Shikai forced the abdication of the last Qing emperor and ensured the success of the revolutionSony VAIO VPCF11Z1E/BI battery, the revolutionaries accepted him as president of the new Republic of China. Yuan maintained his capital at Beijing and quickly consolidated power, declaring himself emperor in 1915. His death less than a year later left China under the control of the warlords commanding the regional armies. The most powerful factions fought frequent wars – the Zhili-Anhui War and the First and Second Zhili-Fengtian War – to take control of the capitalSony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery. Following the success of the Nationalists' Northern Expedition, the capital was formally removed to Nanjing in 1928. On 28 June the same year, Beijing's name was returned to Beiping (written at the time as "Pei-p'ing").
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Beiping fell to Japan on 29 July 1937 and was made the seat of the Provisional Government of the Republic of China, a puppet state that ruled the ethnic-Chinese portions of Japanese-occupied northern ChinaSony VAIO VPCF23S1E battery. This government was later merged into the larger Wang Jingwei government based in Nanjing.
Mao Zedong proclaiming the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949
A scene from the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
In the final phases of the Chinese Civil War, the People's Liberation Army seized control of the city peacefully on 31 January 1949 in the course of the Pingjin Campaign. On 1 October that year, Mao Zedong announced the creation of the People's Republic of China from atop Tian'anmen. He restored the name of the city, as the new capital, to Beijing,Sony VAIO VPCF231S1E batterya decision that had been reached by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference just a few days earlier.
In the 1950s, the city began to expand beyond the old walled city and its surrounding neighborhoods, with heavy industries in the west and residential neighborhoods in the north. Many areas of the Beijing city wall were torn down in the 1960s to make way for the construction of the Beijing Subway and the 2nd Ring RoadSony VAIO VPCF23Q1E battery.
During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, the Red Guard movement began in Beijing and the city's government fell victim to one of the first purges. By the fall of 1966, all city schools were shut down and over a million Red Guards from across the country gathered in Beijing for eight rallies in Tian'anmen Square with Mao. In April 1976, a large public gathering of Beijing residents against the Gang of Four and the Cultural Revolution in Tiananmen Square was forcefully suppressedSony VAIO VPCF23M1E battery. In October 1976, the Gang was arrested in Zhongnanhai and the Cultural Revolution came to an end. In December 1978, the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress in Beijing under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping reversed the verdicts against victims of the Cultural Revolution and instituted the "policy of reform and opening upSony VAIO VPCF22S8E battery."
Since the early 1980s, the urban area of Beijing has expanded greatly with the completion of the 2nd Ring Road in 1981 and the subsequent addition of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Ring Roads. According to one 2005 newspaper report, the size of newly-developed Beijing was one-and-a-half times larger than before. Wangfujing and Xidan have developed into flourishing shopping districts, while Zhongguancun has become a major center of electronics in China. Sony VAIO VPCF22S1E battery In recent years, the expansion of Beijing has also brought to the forefront some problems of urbanization, such as heavy traffic, poor air quality, the loss of historic neighborhoods, and a significant influx of migrants from less-developed areas of the country. Beijing has also been the location of many significant events in recent Chinese history, principally the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the 2008 Summer Olympics. Sony VAIO VPCF22M1E battery
Beijing satellite view from Landsat 5 8 August 2010
Beihai Park, an extensive imperial garden in the center of Beijing
Beijing is situated at the northern tip of the roughly triangular North China Plain, which opens to the south and east of the city. Mountains to the north, northwest and west shield the city and northern China's agricultural heartland from the encroaching desert steppes. The northwestern part of the municipality, especially Yanqing County and Huairou DistrictSony VAIO VPCF22L1E battery, are dominated by the Jundu Mountains, while the western part is framed by the Western Hills, or Xishan. The Great Wall of China, which stretches across the northern part of Beijing Municipality, made use of this rugged topography to defend against nomadic incursions from the steppes. Mount Dongling, in the Western Hills and on the border with Hebei, is the municipality's highest point, with an altitude of 2,303 metres (7,556 ft) Sony VAIO VPCF22J1E battery.
Major rivers flowing through the municipality include the Yongding River and the Chaobai River, part of the Hai River system, and flow in a southerly direction. Beijing is also the northern terminus of the Grand Canal of China, which was built across the North China Plain to Hangzhou. Miyun Reservoir, built on the upper reaches of the Chaobai River, is Beijing's largest reservoir, and crucial to its water supplySony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B battery.
The urban area of Beijing is in the south-central part of the municipality and occupies a small but expanding portion of the municipality's area. It spreads out in bands of concentric ring roads, of which the fifth and outermost, the Sixth Ring Road (the numbering starts at two), passes through several satellite towns. Tian'anmen and Tian'anmen Square are at the center of Beijing, directly to the south of the Forbidden City, the former residence of the emperors of ChinaSony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery. To the west of Tian'anmen is Zhongnanhai, home to the paramount leaders of the PRC. Running through central Beijing from east to west is Chang'an Avenue, one of the city's main thoroughfares.
Beijing has a rather dry, monsoon-influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa), characterized by hot, humid summers due to the East Asian monsoon, and generally cold, windy, dry winters that reflect the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone. Sony VAIO VPCF11D4E battery Spring can bear witness to sandstorms blowing in from the Mongolian steppe, accompanied by rapidly warming, but generally dry, conditions. Autumn, like spring, sees little rain, but is crisp and short. The monthly daily average temperature in January is −3.7 °C (25.3 °F), while in July it is 26.2 °C (79.2 °F). Precipitation averages around 570 mm (22.4 in) annually, with the great majority of it falling in the summer months. Extremes have ranged from −27.4 °C (−17 °F) to 42.6 °C (109 °F)Sony VAIO VPCF11C5E battery.
Joint research between American and Chinese researchers in 2006 concluded that much of the city's pollution comes from surrounding cities and provinces. On average 35–60% of the ozone can be traced to sources outside the city. Shandong Province and Tianjin Municipality have a "significant influence on Beijing's air quality", partly due to the prevailing south/southeasterly flow during the summer and the mountains to the north and northwestSony VAIO VPCF11C4E/B battery.
Heavy air pollution has resulted in widespread smog. These photographs, taken in August 2005, show the variations in Beijing's air quality.
In preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics and to fulfill promises to clean up the city's air, nearly 17 billion USD was spent. Beijing also implemented a number of air improvement schemes for the duration of the Games, including stopping work on all construction sites, closing many factories in and around Beijing, closing some gas stations, Sony VAIO PCG-31114V battery and cutting motor traffic by half by limiting drivers to odd or even days (based on their license plate numbers) Two new subway lines were opened and thousands of old taxis and buses were replaced to encourage residents to use public transport. The Beijing government encouraged a discussion to keep the odd-even scheme in place after the Olympics, and although the scheme was eventually lifted on 21 September 2008Sony VAIO PCG-31113V battery, it was replaced by new restrictions on government vehicles and a new restriction that does not allow the use of a car once a week. In addition, staggered office hours and retail opening times have been encouraged to avoid the rush hour, and parking fees were increased.
Beijing became the first city in China to require the Chinese equivalent to the Euro 4 emission standard. Sony VAIO PCG-31112V batterySome 357,000 "yellow label" vehicles (whose emission levels are too high) have been banned from Beijing altogether.
The government regularly uses cloud-seeding measures to increase the likelihood of rain showers in the region to clear the air prior to large events as well as to combat drought conditions in the area.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), China has spent $17 billion over the last three years on a large-scale green drive. Sony VAIO PCG-31114M batteryBeijing has added 3,800 natural gas buses, one of the largest fleets in the world. Twenty percent of the Olympic venues' electricity comes from renewable energy sources. The city has also planted hundreds of thousands of trees and increased green space in an effort to make the city more livable. Sony VAIO PCG-31113M battery
One year after the 2008 Olympics, Beijing's officials reported that the city was enjoying the best air quality this decade because of the measures taken during the Games. Nonetheless, Beijing still faces air pollution problems. The US embassy recorded levels of pollution beyond measurable levels on 21 February 2011, and advised people to stay indoors as a thick smog was covering the city. Sony VAIO PCG-31112M battery
Daily pollution readings at 27 monitoring stations around the city are reported on the website of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (BJEPB). The United States Embassy in Beijing also reports hourly fine particulate (PM2.5) and ozone levels on Twitter. Although the BJEPB and US Embassy measure different pollutants according to different criteria the media has noted that pollution levels and the impact to human health reported by the BJEPB are often lower than that reported by the US Embassy. Sony VAIO PCG-31111M battery
Dust from the erosion of deserts in northern and northwestern China results in seasonal dust storms that plague the city; the Beijing Weather Modification Office sometimes artificially induces rainfall to fight such storms and mitigate their effects. In the first four months of 2006 alone, there were no fewer than eight such storms. In April 2002, one dust storm alone dumped nearly 50,000 tons of dust onto the city before moving on to Japan and Korea. Sony VAIO PCG-41112M battery
Municipal government is regulated by the local Communist Party of China (CPC), led by the Beijing CPC Secretary (北京市委书记). The local CPC issues administrative orders, collects taxes, manages the economy, and directs a standing committee of the Municipal People's Congress in making policy decisions and overseeing the local governmentSony VAIO PCG-41111M battery.
Government officials include the mayor and vice-mayor. Numerous bureaus focus on law, public security, and other affairs. Additionally, as the capital of China, Beijing houses all of the important national governmental and political institutions, including the National People's Congress.
Main articles: List of administrative divisions of Beijing and List of township-level divisions of BeijingSONY VAIO PCG-21212M battery
Beijing Municipality currently comprises 16 administrative county-level subdivisions including 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties. On 1 July 2010, Chongwen (崇文区) and Xuanwu Districts (宣武区) were merged into Dongcheng and Xicheng Districts, respectively.
Beijing is among the most developed cities in China, with tertiary industry accounting for 73.2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) SONY VAIO PCG-21211M battery; it was the first post industrial city in mainland China. Beijing is home to 41 Fortune Global 500 companies, the second most in the world behind Tokyo, and over 100 of the largest companies in China. Its overall economic influence has been ranked number 1 by PwC.
Finance is one of the most important industries. By the end of 2007, there were 751 financial organizations in Beijing generating revenue of 128.6 billion RMB, 11.6% of the total financial industry revenue of the entire country. That also accounts for 13.8% of Beijing's GDP, the highest percentage of any Chinese citySONY VAIO PCG-51212M battery.
In 2010, Beijing's nominal GDP reached 1.37 trillion RMB. Its per capita GDP was 78,194 RMB. In 2009, Beijing's nominal GDP was 1.19 trillion RMB (US$174 billion), a growth of 10.1% over the previous year. Its GDP per capita was 68,788 RMB (US$10,070), an increase of 6.2% over 2008. In 2009, Beijing's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 11.83 billion RMB, 274.31 billion RMBSONY VAIO PCG-51211M battery, and 900.45 billion RMB respectively. Urban disposable income per capita was 26,738 yuan, a real increase of 8.1% from the previous year. Per capita pure income of rural residents was 11,986 RMB, a real increase of 11.5%. The Engel's coefficient of Beijing's urban residents reached 31.8% in 2005, while that of the rural residents was 32.8%, declining 4.5 and 3.9 percentage points respectively compared to 2000SONY VAIO PCG-51112M battery.
Beijing's real estate and automobile sectors have continued to boom in recent years. In 2005, a total of 28,032,000 square metres (301,730,000 sq ft) of housing real estate was sold, for a total of 175.88 billion RMB. The total number of cars registered in Beijing in 2004 was 2,146,000, of which 1,540,000 were privately owned (a yearly increase of 18.7%).SONY VAIO PCG-51111M battery
The Beijing central business district (CBD), centered on the Guomao area, has been identified as the city's new central business district, and is home to a variety of corporate regional headquarters, shopping precincts, and high-end housing. Beijing Financial Street, in the Fuxingmen and Fuchengmen area, is a traditional financial center. The Wangfujing and Xidan areas are major shopping districts. Zhongguancun, dubbed "China's Silicon Valley"SONY VAIO PCG-51111V battery, continues to be a major center in electronics and computer-related industries, as well as pharmaceuticals-related research. Meanwhile, Yizhuang, located to the southeast of the urban area, is becoming a new center in pharmaceuticals, information technology, and materials engineering. Shijingshan, on the western outskirts of the city, is among the major industrial areas. Specially designated industrial parks include Zhongguancun Science Park, Yongle Economic Development Zone, Beijing Economic-technological Development Area, and Tianzhu Airport Industrial ZoneSONY VAIO PCG-81212M battery.
Agriculture is carried on outside the urban area, with wheat and maize (corn) being the main crops. Vegetables are also grown closer to the urban area in order to supply the city.
Beijing is increasingly becoming known for its innovative entrepreneurs and high-growth startup companies. This culture is backed by a large community of both Chinese and foreign venture capital firms, such as Sequoia Capital, whose head office in China is in ChaoyangSony VAIO PCG-81112M battery, Beijing. Though Shanghai is seen as the economic center of China, this is typically based on the numerous large corporations based there, rather than for being a center for entrepreneurship.
Less legitimate enterprises also exist. Urban Beijing is known for being a center of pirated goods; anything from the latest designer clothing to DVDs can be found in markets all over the city, often marketed to expatriates and international visitors. SONY VAIO PCG-71111M battery
The development of Beijing continues at a rapid pace, and the vast expansion has created a multitude of problems for the city. Beijing is known for its smog as well as the frequent "power-saving" programmes instituted by the government. To reduce air pollution, a number of major industries have been ordered to reduce emissions or leave the city. Beijing Capital Steel, once one of the city's largest employers and its single biggest polluterSONY VAIO PCG-7196M battery, has been relocating most of its operations to Tangshan, in nearby Hebei Province. Residents and tourists alike frequently complain about the water quality and the cost of the basic services such as electricity and natural gas.
The registered population of Beijing Municipality consists of people holding either Beijing permanent residence hukou permits or temporary residence permitsSONY VAIO PCG-7195M battery. The 2010 census revealed that the official total population in Beijing was 19,612,368, representing a 44% increase over the last decade. In 2006, the population of the urban core was 13.33 million, 84.3 percent of the total municipal population, which officially stood at 15.81 million. Urban sprawl continues at a rapid pace.
After Chongqing and Shanghai, Beijing is the third largest of the four directly controlled municipalities of the People's Republic of China. In the PRC, a directly controlled municipality (直辖市 in pinyin: zhíxiáshì) is a city with status equal to a provinceSONY VAIO PCG-7194M battery.
According to the statistical yearbook issued in 2005 by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, out of a total population in 2004 of 14.213 million in Beijing, 1.415 million (9.96%) were 0–14 years old, 11.217 million (78.92%) were 15–64 and 1.581 million (11.12%) 65 and over.
Most of Beijing's residents belong to the Han Chinese majority. Ethnic minorities include the Manchu, Hui, and Mongol. SONY VAIO PCG-7192M battery A Tibetan-language high school exists for youth of Tibetan ancestry, nearly all of whom have come to Beijing from Tibet expressly for their studies. A sizable international community resides in Beijing, many attracted by the highly growing foreign business and trade sector, others by the traditional and modern culture of the city. Many of these foreigners live in the areas around the Beijing CBD, Sanlitun, and Wudaokou. In recent years, there has also been an influx of South Koreans, an estimated 200,000 in 2009, predominantly for business and study. Many of them live in the Wangjing and Wudaokou areasSONY PCG-8113M battery.
People native to urban Beijing speak the Beijing dialect, which belongs to the Mandarin subdivision of spoken Chinese. This speech is the basis for putonghua, the standard spoken language used in mainland China and Taiwan, and one of the four official languages of Singapore. Rural areas of Beijing Municipality have their own dialects akin to those of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing MunicipalitySONY PCG-8112M battery .
Beijing or Peking opera (京剧, Jīngjù) is a traditional form of Chinese theater well known throughout the nation. Commonly lauded as one of the highest achievements of Chinese culture, Beijing opera is performed through a combination of song, spoken dialogue, and codified action sequences involving gestures, movement, fighting and acrobatics. Much of Beijing opera is carried out in an archaic stage dialect quite different from Modern Standard Chinese and from the modern Beijing dialectSONY PCG-7134M battery .
Beijing cuisine is the local style of cooking. Peking Roast Duck is perhaps the best known dish. Fuling Jiabing, a traditional Beijing snack food, is a pancake (bing) resembling a flat disk with a filling made from fu ling, a fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine. Teahouses are common in BeijingSONY PCG-7131M battery.
The cloisonné (or Jingtailan, literally "Blue of Jingtai") metalworking technique and tradition is a Beijing art specialty, and is one of the most revered traditional crafts in China. Cloisonné making requires elaborate and complicated processes which include base-hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, surface polishing and gilding. Beijing's lacquerware is also well known for its sophisticated and intrinsic patterns and images carved into its surface, and the various decoration techniques of lacquer include "carved lacquer" and "engraved gold"SONY PCG-7122M battery.
Younger residents of Beijing have become more attracted to the nightlife, which has flourished in recent decades, breaking prior cultural traditions that had practically restricted it to the upper class.
See also: Major National Historical and Cultural Sites (Beijing) and List of landmarks in Beijing
“ ...the city remains an epicenter of tradition with the treasures of nearly 2,000 years as the imperial capital still on view—in the famed Forbidden City and in the city's lush pavilions and gardens... SONY PCG-7121M battery”
At the historical heart of Beijing lies the Forbidden City, the enormous palace compound that was the home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties; the Forbidden City hosts the Palace Museum, which contains imperial collections of Chinese art. Surrounding the Forbidden City are several former imperial gardens, parks and scenic areas, notably Beihai, Shichahai, Zhongnanhai, Jingshan and ZhongshanSONY PCG-7113M battery. These places, particularly Beihai Park, are described as masterpieces of Chinese gardening art, and are popular tourist destinations with tremendous historical importance; in the modern era, Zhongnanhai has also been the political heart of various Chinese governments and regimes and is now the headquarters of the Communist Party of China. From Tiananmen Square, right across from the Forbidden City, there are several notable sitesSONY PCG-7112M battery , such as the Tiananmen, Qianmen, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, the Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace both lie at the western part of the city; the former, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains a comprehensive collection of imperial gardens and palaces that served as the summer retreat for the Qing emperorsSONY PCG-8Z3M battery.
Beijing's Temple of Heaven as photographed in the early 20th century
Among the best known religious sites in the city is the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), located in southeastern Beijing, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties made visits for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven for good harvest. In the north of the city is the Temple of Earth (Ditan), while the Temple of the Sun (Ritan) and the Temple of the Moon (Yuetan) lie in the eastern and western urban areas respectivelySONY PCG-8Z2M battery. Other well-known temple sites include the Dongyue Temple, Tanzhe Temple, Miaoying Temple, White Cloud Temple, Yonghe Temple, Fayuan Temple, Wanshou Temple and Big Bell Temple. The city also has its own Confucius Temple, and a Guozijian or Imperial Academy. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1605, is the oldest Catholic church in Beijing. The Niujie Mosque is the oldest mosque in Beijing, with a history stretching back over a thousand yearsSONY PCG-8Z1M battery .
Beijing contains several well-preserved pagodas and stone pagodas, such as the towering Pagoda of Tianning Temple, which was built during the Liao Dynasty from 1100 to 1120, and the Pagoda of Cishou Temple, which was built in 1576 during the Ming Dynasty. Historically noteworthy stone bridges include the 12th-century Lugou Bridge, the 17th-century Baliqiao bridge, and the 18th-century Jade Belt BridgeSONY PCG-8Y3M battery. The Beijing Ancient Observatory displays pre-telescopic spheres dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan) is a popular scenic public park that consists of natural landscaped areas as well as traditional and cultural relics. The Beijing Botanical Garden exhibits over 6,000 species of plants, including a variety of trees, bushes and flowers, and an extensive peony garden. The Taoranting, Longtan, Chaoyang, Haidian, Milu Yuan and Zizhu Yuan parks are some of the notable recreational parks in the citySONY PCG-8Y2M battery. The Beijing Zoo is a center of zoological research that also contains rare animals from various continents, including the Chinese giant panda.
There are over one hundred museums in Beijing. In addition to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China, other major museums include the National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum, the Beijing Art Museum, the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, the Geological Museum of China, the Beijing Museum of Natural History and the Paleozoological Museum of China. SONY PCG-7Z1M battery
Located at the outskirts of urban Beijing, but within its municipality are the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, the lavish and elaborate burial sites of thirteen Ming emperors, which have been designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The archaeological Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian is another World Heritage Site within the municipality, containing a wealth of discoveriesSONY PCG-6W2M battery , among them one of the first specimens of Homo erectus and an assemblage of bones of the gigantic hyena Pachycrocuta brevirostris. There are several sections of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Great Wall of China, most notably Badaling, Jinshanling, Simatai and Mutianyu.
Three styles of architecture predominate in urban Beijing. First, there is the traditional architecture of imperial China, perhaps best exemplified by the massive Tian'anmen SONY PCG-5J5M battery (Gate of Heavenly Peace), which remains the People's Republic of China's trademark edifice, the Forbidden City, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and the Temple of Heaven. Next, there is what is sometimes referred to as the "Sino-Sov" style, with structures tending to be boxy and sometimes poorly constructed, which were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. Finally, there are much more modern architectural forms, most noticeably in the area of the Beijing CBD and Beijing Financial StreetSONY PCG-5K2M battery.
In the early 21st century, Beijing has witnessed tremendous growth of new building constructions, exhibiting various modern styles from international designers. A mixture of both old and new styles of architecture can be seen at the 798 Art Zone, which mixes 1950s design with the new.
Beijing is famous for its siheyuans, a type of residence where a common courtyard is shared by the surrounding buildings. Among the more grand examples are the Prince Gong Mansion and Residence of Soong Ching-lingSONY PCG-5K1M battery . These courtyards are usually connected by alleys called hutongs. The hutongs are generally straight and run east to west so that doorways face north and south for good Feng Shui. They vary in width; some are so narrow only a few pedestrians can pass through at a time. Once ubiquitous in Beijing, siheyuans and hutongs are rapidly disappearing, as entire city blocks of hutongs are replaced by high-rise buildings. SONY PCG-5J4M battery Residents of the hutongs are entitled to live in the new buildings in apartments of at least the same size as their former residences. Many complain, however, that the traditional sense of community and street life of the hutongs cannot be replaced, and these properties are often government owned.
Beijing Television broadcasts on channels 1 through 10. Three radio stations feature programmes in English: Hit FM on FM 88.7, Easy FM by China Radio International on FM 91.5, and the newly launched Radio 774 on AM 774. Beijing Radio Stations is the family of radio stations serving the citySONY PCG-5J1M battery.
The well-known Beijing Evening News (Beijing Wanbao, 北京晚报), covering news about Beijing in Chinese, is distributed every afternoon. Other newspapers include The Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao, 新京报), the Beijing Star Daily, the Beijing Morning News, and the Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnian Bao), as well as English-language weeklies Beijing Weekend and Beijing Today (the English-language edition of Youth Daily). The People's Daily, Global Times and the China Daily (English) are published in Beijing as wellSONY PCG-5G2M battery.
Publications primarily aimed at international visitors and the expatriate community include the English-language periodicals Time Out Beijing, City Weekend, Beijing This Month, Beijing Talk, That's Beijing.
Fireworks above Olympic venues during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Games
Taijiquan practitioners at the Fragrant Hills Park
Beijing has hosted numerous international and national sporting events, the most notable was the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Other multi-sport international events held in Beijing include the 2001 Universiade and the 1991 Asian GamesSony VAIO PCG-8131M battery. Single-sport international competitions include the Beijing Marathon (annually since 1981), China Open of Tennis (1993–97, annually since 2004), ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Cup of China (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010), WPBSA China Open for Snooker (annually since 2005), International Cycling Union Tour of Beijing (since 2011), 1961 World Table Tennis Championships, 1987 IBF Badminton World Championships, the 2004 AFC Asian Cup (football), and 2009 Barclays Asia Trophy (football). Beijing will host the 2015 IAAF World Championships in AthleticsSony VAIO PCG-8152M battery.