As the capital of China,
Beijing is one of the world's truly
imposing cities, with a 3,000-year
history and 15.3 million people (2005).
Covering 16,808 square kilometers
in area, it is the political, cultural
and economic center of the People¡¯s
Situated in northeast China, Beijing
adjoins the Inner Mongolian Highland
to the northwest and the Great Northern
Plain to the south. Five rivers run
through the city, connecting it to
the eastern Bohai Sea.
Administratively, the Beijing municipality
equals the status of a province, reporting
directly to the central government.Beijing,
a dynamic city where the old and new
intermingle, remains a magnet for
visitors from inside and outside China.
Rich in history, Beijing has been
China¡¯s primary capital
for more than seven centuries. China¡¯s
imperial past and political present
meet at Tiananmen square, where the
Forbidden City palace of the emperors
gives way to the Great Hall of the
People congress building and the mausoleum
of Chairman Mao Zedong. The old city
walls have been replaced by ring roads,
and many of the old residential districts
of alleys and courtyard houses have
been turned into high-rise hotels,
office buildings, and department stores.
Beijing is a city of broad boulevards,
now full of traffic and pulsating
to the rhythms of commerce and entertainment.
Museums and parks abound, including
the Palace Museum of the Forbidden
City and Beihai Park in the center
of town. Nearby, the China Fine Arts
Museum (Zhongguo meishuguan) exhibits
the work of contemporary artists.
China¡¯s ancient past and
recent history are on view at the
Museum of Chinese History and Chinese
Revolution at Tiananmen. Antiques,
crafts, and books can be found at
Liulichang, an old antique market
district remodeled in the 1980¡¯s
to reflect the style of the old city.
Some of the spirit of Old Beijing
is also preserved at Qianmen, south
of Tiananmen, with stores that date
to the early 20th century and beyond,
including the Tongrentang Traditional
Medicine Shop, first established in
1669. Beijing Opera performances and
acrobatic troupes keep those traditional
entertainment forms vital, while contemporary
musicclubs and discos thrive in an
era of liberalization and prosperity.