|Area (City):||1,368 square km|
|Area (Metro):||16,800 square km|
|Population:||21.71 million (2017)|
|January Average Temperature:||-4.7°C (23.54°F)|
|July Average Temperature:||26.1°C (78.98°F)|
|Average Elevation:||20-60 meters|
|Phone Area Code:||10|
|Time Zone:||CST (UTC+8)|
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and its second biggest city is located on the North China Plain in the northern-central portion of the country. Beijing or Peking is not only China’s political city, it is also the nation’s cultural, educational, scientific, and transportation center. It has acted as China’s capital for over 800 years and continues to provide a colorful and mesmerizing culture and history coupled with economic modernization to its people. Even though Beijing is the country’s bustling commercial metropolis, tourists from different countries still flock the city all year round to visit many of the city’s main attractions as listed below.
The city of Beijing is situated on the west coast of China on the Pacific Ocean and is positioned at the tip of the North China Plain. 61% of the city is composed of a mountainous area while the remaining 39% is flat land. On the east, north, and west, Beijing is bounded by the Yanshan Mountains. While to its southeast lies the small sedimentary plain of the Yongding River. An area in the city that is called the Beijing Bay is the part of Beijing that faces the Bohai Sea.
Beijing is distributed into 14 administrative districts and 2 counties which includes Tongzhou District, Shunyi District, Changping District, Haidian District, Chaoyang District, Fengtai District, Shijingshan District, Huairou District, Dongcheng District, Xicheng District, Daxing District, Mentougou District, Fangshan District, Pinggu District, Yangqing County and Miyun County. While Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, and Shijingshan are considered as part of the City Center.
The busiest places in the city are the districts Xicheng and Dongcheng. These districts are located in the Second Ring Road and are also regarded as the traditional inner-city. Xicheng actually translates to West City and Dongcheng to East City. The former is the center of the busy area where the state authorities as well as the offices of economic events and businesses are located. While the latter houses some of the famous attractions in Beijing such as the Forbidden City, Bell Tower, Tiananmen Square, and Temple of Heaven.
Situated in the northwest of downtown is the Haidian District, the home of several historic spots and magnificent royal garden sightings. The famous Old Summer Palace, Fragrant Hills Park-a Holy Land, and Summer Palace are just some of the private gardens in the district which count to more than a hundred. Haidian is also known as the cultural education and scientific center of Beijing. Some of the famous universities such as the Peking University, Renmin University of China, and Tsinghua University are likewise located in this district.
The city’s only two counties are quite rich in tourist resource. In the northwest of Beijing is the Yanqing County where the Badaling Great Wall is sited. The other county, Huairou, is the home of the popular attractions Mutianyu Great Wall and Hongluo Temple.
Beijing’s climate is continental. It has dry and cold winters because of the Siberian air masses moving southward through the Mongolian Plateau. It has a hot, humid, and warm summer and its spring and autumn are long. The hottest month is July while the coldest one is January. Winter normally starts at the end of October while the summer months last from June to August.
The best season to visit Beijing is during spring and autumn specifically the months of April, May, September, and October.
Due to industrialization and technological advancement in the city, the environment of Beijing is now paying the price. Even though factories were relocated to the outskirts of Beijing to lessen air pollution, the increasing number of motor vehicles is again threatening the air quality of the city. Traffic congestion is everywhere because of taxis and cars. Energy use as well as disposable packaging are also swelling because of the modern appliances and other conveniences that people are able to purchase with their growing affluence.
The earliest fragments of human life in Beijing were found in the Dragon Bone Hill caves close to the Zhoukoudian village in Fangshan District.
The city’s history started several thousand years ago but it was only recognized in the history of China when Beijing was announced as the capital of Yan State under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the Warring States Period’s powerful kingdoms some 2,000 years ago. When Yan fell, Beijing still acted as a major region of the Northern China during the Han dynasty (206-220 BC), the Jin dynasty (265-420), and the Tang dynasty (618-907).
When the Later Jin Dynasty (936-947) surrendered a big part of its northern frontier to the Khitan Liao Dynasty in 936, the latter created a secondary capital and named it Nanjing (now Beijing).
The Ming Dynasty later rebuilt the city after 1368 fall of the Yuan Dynasty. After several years, Emperor Yongle who was the third emperor of the Ming dynasty relocated the Ming capital south to Nanjing. It was in the Ming Dynasty that Beijing’s current shape was formed.
Li Zicheng led a 40-day peasant uprising in 1644 against the Ming dynasty. When Li lost the control of the city, it was the Manchus who captured Beijing. After overthrowing the Ming regime and establishing the Qing Dynasty, the Manchus has allowed Beijing as the China’s capital all throughout the Qing period. Even though the Qing Dynasty was defeated in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, Beijing remained to be the capital of the newly founded Republic of China. It was made possible by the former Qing general Yuan Shikai who gained control of the new government from the radicals in the south. Yuan and his successors led the Republic from Beijing until the year 1928.
When the Nationalists ruled the Republic in 1928, they transferred back the capital to Nanjing and renamed Beijing to Beiping. Due to increasing pressure in the city from the Japanese, Beiping was occupied by the Japan troops from 1937 to 1945. The Nationalists were in rule again after the World War II but lost to the Communists in the subsequent civil war. When the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, Beijing got its name restored and was announced as the capital of the newly founded regime. Since then, the city was able to regain its position as the prominent center of China in politics, finance, and culture.
Beijing’s population is rapidly increasing since after the 1949 Communist revolution. In a span of 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, the people living in the metropolitan area has amplified by 44% and the average population growth rate has been at 20% per decade since the year 1960. As of 2017, the people of Beijing has already reached 21.7 million including the more than 8 million transient workers and rural migrants from other areas.
The official records show that there are 56 various ethnic groups in Beijing. But the vast majority of its population which is around 95.69% is part of the Han ethnic group. The remaining 4.31% is allocated to the 55 other ethnicities. The most populous among the 55 are the Mongolians, Manchus, and Hui.
Various religions are being practiced in Beijing but not always liberally. The Chinese constitution allows freedom of religion but all through history, there were some suspensions that occurred which made it tough to practice and maintain certain faiths. Among the vast religious diversity in Beijing are Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam.
Beijing has its own elected or appointed officials but the ultimate control is with the national government rather than its province (Hebei). This is the same case for the municipalities of Tientsin and Shanghai.
The People’s Congress of Beijing Municipality is the governing body at the municipal level. It handles the administrative responsibilities as well as budget and taxation. The members of the Congress are the ones who elect the officials of the executive branch which is known as the Beijing People’s Government. It is composed of a mayor, a number of vice mayors, and the heads of different bureaus. Every district has their own mayor and at the neighborhood level, there are civic duties assumed by the people in the community.
Beijing has developed as one of China’s industrial centers ever since the 1949 Communist revolution. In the succeeding years after the revolution, the government of China has financed major expansions of heavy industry in the city. The modernization was led by Shih-ching-shan Iron and Steel Works, the country’s leading steel-producing facility in the country today. With Beijing’s greatly developed machinery, petrochemical, and textile sectors, it has ranked second to Shanghai when it comes to industrialization.
The agriculture sector also plays a key role in the betterment of the Beijing’s economy. To reduce the city’s food supply dependence from the Yangtze Valley, Beijing has developed a large farming belt on its borders and was able to contribute to the city’s output. Nowadays, the urban agriculture in Beijing has not only increased the quantity of food supplies in the city but also the quality of the food available for consumption due to recent experiments and advancement.
Contributing almost 77% of output to Beijing’s economy is the services sector. Its rapid growth is mainly due to government agencies and private institutions. The People’s Bank of China which is the main institution in the country’s centralized banking system has its main office in central Beijing. The metropolitan area of the city is also the home of a wide-ranged specialized banks such as the Agricultural Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Some of the financial organizations that are supporting Beijing’s service sector are securities firms, insurance companies, credit cooperatives, and investment companies.
Even though Beijing is known to be the most developed city in China, it still has and was able to preserve historic heritage sites. Due to a thousands of tourists visiting a wide-range of historic interest sites and cultural experience in the city, tourism has significantly become an important contributor to the Beijing economy.
There are more than 200 tourist attractions in the city which includes the largest royal palace in the world: the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Royal Summer Palace Garden, the largest courtyard in the world: Prince Gong’s Mansion, and the parts of Great Wall of China, Badaling Great Wall and Mutianyu Great Wall.
Beijing’s educational system is the same with the rest of China. It is composed of 6 years in the primary education and another 6 years in the secondary education. There are also government and private nurseries for toddlers and kindergartens to help out the working moms. The initial years in the primary education focuses on arithmetic, reading, and writing. Science, history, and geography are then included in the succeeding years. The secondary schools in Beijing has 3 types, the general middle schools that offer preparatory courses for college, normal schools that prepare the students to join training colleges, and technical and vocational schools.
Beijing is one of the key centers for higher education in China since it houses the Peking University and Tsinghua (Qinghua) University. The northwestern part of the city, where the said universities are located, has developed to a major educational and research district of the country. It is also the home of other educational institutions such as the Beijing Normal College, the Central Institute of Nationalities, the Central Conservatory of Music, and the Beijing Medical College. Institutions specializing in forestry, petroleum production, agriculture, aeronautics, and other fields are also located in this district.
Beijing’s medical education and practice follows the rest of China, it combines the Western medicine with the medieval Chinese practices which usually include herbal medicines and acupuncture. The Peking Union Medical College Hospital is Beijing’s biggest hospital which was built in 1921 as an affiliate of the Peking Union Medical College. Today, it is now a polyclinic facility with pediatric and gynecological institutes.
There are many hospitals that were founded in Beijing since 1949 and there are a number of hospitals which were built and affiliated with medical schools and other clinical teaching institutions. Beijing’s biggest pediatric facility, Beijing Children’s Hospital, is situated near the Fuxing Gate.
Specialty hospitals are also found in Beijing which specialize either in orthopedic, plastic, chest, or trauma-related surgeries.
A traditional style of Chinese theater performance is called Peking Opera and it is actually considered as the quintessence of Chinese culture, rooting from more than 200 years ago. It is the ultimate medium for the performance as well as interpretation of traditional and historical myths and legends due to its unique combination of music, dance, vocal performance, mime and even acrobatics.
Calligraphy and Chinese-style painting are some of the visual arts that were successfully revived in the city. Various shops and galleries are offering traditional Chinese paintings and Western-style paintings as well.
Beijing’s market for antiques and bookshops are also growing. Antiques are found at Liulichang while there are lots of well-stocked bookshops scattered in the city.
The local style of cooking in Beijing is called the Mandarin cuisine. Its most famous dish is probably the Peking Roasted Duck. The Manhan Quanxi or Manchu-Han Chinese full banquet has remained very prominent and expensive. It is an occasional banquet which was initially formed for the ethnic-Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty.
Some of the common stalls in Beijing are teahouses. There are different varieties of Chinese teas and the more expensive ones are said to effectively cure an ailing body.
The people of the past Beijing enjoyed their daily lives with the city’s narrow lanes and old quadrangles. Today, even though the city has developed into an international metropolis, Beijing was able to preserve one-third of its traditional lanes and alleyways which serve as the residence of half of the city’s population. Beijing hutongs and courtyards can still be found in the city which are like the living murals of the ancient people’s lifestyle. Most of the tourists look forward to visiting the famous Beijing hutong to have a firsthand experience of the life, history, and culture of China’s capital.
A folk activity that showcases the Beijing leisure culture, a traditional Beijing temple fair was initially held around the temple. It was held regularly and later become as the city culture. Temple fairs in Beijing were celebrated every ten days at different temples such as the Earth Temple, the Flower Market, the Huguo Temple, the White Pagoda Temple, and the Longfu Temple. An annual celebration called the Changdian Fair was also held for the first fifteen days of the 1st lunar month inside the Eastern Informal or Dongbianmen Gate. The different celebrations mentioned are being held regularly in Beijing for more than 300 years already. Many of the temple fairs in the city are celebrated during the spring festival period and the highlights are usually folk performances and different folk handicrafts.