It would take hours to even scratch the surface, but in a
nutshell: Beijing is the political and cultural heart, and one of
the few economic centers of China. It is a very large city that at
times suffers from very poor air quality, overcrowding, and
congestion. Any negatives, however, are far outweighed by its'
wonderful and culturally rich past that somehow remains evident in
its' present time. It is unlike any other place in the world. A
unique combination of its' Communist past and Capitalist future. It
is growing and developing by an unimaginable pace (try and take a
picture without at least 3 giant cranes in the background). fei
chang hao, fa shi!! (a great place, promise!) Modern Beijing
Beijing thrives today as the political and cultural capital of
China as well as a center of international activity and an
important socialist base.
Great changes have taken place since the founding of the
People's Republic of China in 1949. The city walls were demolished
to facilitate transportation and allow for general expansion. By
2001, the population exceeded 12.5 million, and the total municipal
area was increased to over 17,800 square kilometers. The city is
presently divided into 16 districts: Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen,
Xuanwu, Chaoyang, Haidian, Shijingshan, Fengtai, Shunyi, Changping,
Mentougou, Tongzhou, Fangshan, Daxing, Huairou and Pinggu. In
addition to these urban districts, the municipality is comprised of
two counties: Miyun and Yanqing.
Plans for future development retain the symmetrical layout of
the old city on its north-south axis, extending out into the
From Dingfuzhuang in the east to Shijingshan in the west and
from Qinghe in the north to Nanyuan in the south, the overall plan
covers an area of 1,000 square kilometers. A traffic network of
four concentric beltways, 28 radial roads, and underground and
suburban railways are being further developed to link the city
center with outlying areas and surrounding towns.
With Tian'anmen at the center, offices along 38-kilometer-long
Chang'an Boulevard will concentrate on state, political and
economic affairs. The areas around the Palace Museum (Imperial
Palace or Forbidden City) and city gates as well as the lakes --
Zhongnanhai, Beihai and Housanhai -- have been designated landmark
districts. And with a look to the future, an increasing number of
historical, cultural and revolutionary sites are being renovated
and opened to the public.