Beijing Introduction – Facts, Shopping, Getting Around, etc.

Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is not only the nation's political center, but also its cultural, scientific and educational heart as well as a key transportation hub. Beijing has served as a capital of the country for more than 800 years.

Fobidden City

Beijing Facts

Location: Beijing is located on the western coast of China on the Pacific Ocean. Beijing stands at the northern tip of the North China Plain. Tian'anmen Square in the center of Beijing is situated at 39°56" North Latitude and 116°20" East Longitude. Beijing lies at approximately the same latitude as Philadelphia in the U.S. and Madrid in Spain . The city is 39% flat land and the other 61% is quite mountainous area. Beijing is surrounded by the Yanshan Mountains on the west, north and east while the small alluvial plain of the Yongding River lies to its southeast. Beijing faces the Bohai Sea, and the area is also called the Beijing Bay.

History: Peking Man appeared in the original place of Beijing about half a million years ago. It was built as a township more than three millenniums ago. Beijing was the ancient capital during 5 dynasties, and is currently the modern capital of China.

Area: Greater Beijing has an area of 16,808 sq km.

Time: Time used in Beijing and all over China is called Beijing Standard Time. It is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 8), and 13 hours ahead of New York time.

Population: 13.82 million (March 2001), half of the people live on the outskirt of the city.

Ethnic groups: The permanent residents of Beijing come from all of China's 56 ethnic groups. The Han nationality accounts for 96.5% of the total. The other 55 ethnic minorities claim a population of more than 300,000, most of them are from Hui, Manchu, and Mongolian nationalities.

Agriculture: In 1994, the gross value of agricultural output reached 28.69 billion yuan (non-agricultural output value accounting for 79.5%). The gross value of rural industrial output accounted for 40.2% of the city's gross value of industrial output in 1994. The main cereals are wheat, corn, and rice. The total amount of grain output was 2,761 million tons, and per-hectare yield was 6,420 kilograms. There are 541 farms where each farmer is responsible for more than 6.6 hectares. Mechanization in agriculture has been basically realized in plain areas, and various kinds of bases can provide abundant sideline products.

historical Beijing hutong

Industry: Beijing's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 82.9 billion yuan in the first five months of 2000, up 12 percent over the same period of last year, with high-tech enterprises leading development, according to Beijing Youth Daily. From January to May, the added value of Beijing's industrial output was 6.35 billion yuan, up 18.8 percent over the same period of the previous year.

City Flowers: In the spring of 1987, delegates to the Sixth Session of the Eighth Municipal People's Congress, meeting in the Great Hall of the People, overwhelmingly approved the scholar tree and oriental cypress as the official city trees, the Chinese rose and the chrysanthemum as Beijing's official city flowers.

The rose, a Chinese native, has been cross-bred many times, but it still has half of the original Chinese strain. Known as Perpetual Spring, Monthly Red, Snow Challenger and Victorious, it is fast growing, regenerates easily and is graceful and long blooming (May to October). The chrysanthemum has many names and varieties. In Beijing potted chrysanthemums may be seen year round. They flower in summer and fall naturally but can be forced to bloom any time of year. During the Qing dynasty, there were 400 rare strains of chrysanthemum. Beijing's flora-culturists now boast more than 1000 varieties.

City trees: The stately cypress symbolizes the courage and strength of the Chinese people, their simple, hard working nature and their defiance in the face of aggression. This Plateaus Orientals, or Oriental Arborvitae, can grow as tall as 20 meters. Some of those in Zhongshan Park were planted as long as 1,000 years ago during the Liao Dynasty. The scholar tree is a symbol of good fortune, joy and well-being. Dating back to the Qin and Han dynasties Sophia Japonica were planted extensively at the Tang Dynasty Imperial Palace in Chang'an. At Beihai Park an ancient specimen in the courtyard of the Painters Corridor, is believed to have been planted during the Tang Dynasty, before 907. Another ancient scholar tree near the Broken Bridge in the Forbidden City is said to have been planted before 1125. Both are well adapted to Beijing's cold, dry winter, hot and dry summer, and alkaline soil.

Family travel in Beijing

Top Things to Do in Beijing

The city has many places of historic interest and scenic beauty, including the Forbidden City - the largest and best-preserved ancient architectural complex in the world; the Temple of Heaven--where Ming and Qing emperors performed solemn rituals for bountiful harvests; the Summer Palace - the emperors' magnificent garden retreat; the Ming tombs--the stately and majestic mausoleums of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors; and the world-renowned and genuinely inspiring Great Wall. Large-scale construction has brought great changes to Beijing since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 that adds more and more new attractions to the mysterious old city.

Climate and Best time to Visit Beijing

Climate: The climate in Beijing is of the continental type, with cold and dry winters, due to the Siberian air masses that move southward across the Mongolian Plateau. The summers are hot owing to warm and humid monsoon winds from the southeast bringing Beijing most of its annual precipitation. January is the coldest month and July is the warmest. Winter usually begins towards the end of October. The summer months, June to August, are wet and hot with about 40% of the annual precipitation. The autumn season from September to October is regarded the best time to travel to Beijing, with mild weather and beautiful nature. Nevertheless, if you visit Beijing in the off season, you may have better travel experience given that there is less crowds.

Shopping in Beijing

Whether you are shopping at international-brand shopfronts or looking for local bizarre antique markets and food streets, shopping in Beijing can be really fun. The most famous shopping malls and commercial streets in Beijing include Wangfujing, Qianmen Street, Xidan, Sanlitun, Nanluoguxiang hutong, Xiushui Street and Panjiayuan Antique Market.

Simatai Great Wall

Nightlife

The modern and cultural Beijing offers a wide range of nightlife choices.

- Sanlitun and Houhai bar streets for drinks, music and lively atmosphere

- The popular food streets such as Shichahai, Guijie, for authentic local snacks.

- The night markets – the hutong alleyways, wangfujing, etc.

- Fabulous night shows: Peking Opera, Shaolin Kungfu, acrobatics, etc.

- Dinner at patio restaurant to take in the cityscape by night

Getting to and around Beijing

Beijing Capital International Airport serves air routes to nearly 140 international destinations, making it the first choice of the gateway city for international travelers who travel to China. Furthermore, to meet the increasing passenger flow, Beijing Daxing International Airport is built and expected to be made into formal operation in September 30. From the airports of Beijing, or the high speed railway stations, you can go to other China destinations easily, such as Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu, etc.

The Capital of China, Beijing is very modernized, with convenient inner city transportation, such as subway, taxi, city bus, tourist bus, public bicycle…

Beijing Visa-Free Transit Policy

Beijing has implemented the new 144-hour transit visa exemption policy, which means passport holders from 53 countries with valid international travel documents and tickets to a third country (region) can choose to stay in Beijing, Tianjin and Hubei for up to six days/144 hours. Therefore, you need not to apply for a Chinese visa to take 3-day Classic Beijing Layover Tour.

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