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43. Beijing • Peoples Republic of China

We have selected 100 unique places on Earth that are projected to undergo profound changes within the next few generations. We based our selection of the 100 places on the 4th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Simply by drawing attention to the beauty of these places, 100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear creates an argument to preserve them. The 100 Places we have chosen to highlight, and the people who live in them, are in serious danger because of rising sea levels, rising temperatures and extreme weather events triggered by climate change. Among ambassadors are Joss Stone, Desmund Tutu for more info visit http://www.100places.com. Capital of Dynasties Beijing is Chinas capital and its second biggest city after Shanghai. Many of the 17 million people of this booming city have now abandoned their bicycles in favour of cars. Huge flyovers and multi-lane highways have turned Beijing into a major transportation hub, and Chinas main international airport is also located here. Beijing is not only a pulsating, modern city, but also one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, which endows it with immense historical and cultural significance. The feudal dynasties of Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing all had their capital in Beijing. The region is full of cultural relics including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. On 1 October 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong announced in Tiananmen Square that Beijing would be the capital of the new Peoples Republic of China. Since then, the city has expanded exponentially. The Second Ring Road, which was constructed in 1981 on the former site of the inner city wall, has subsequently been surrounded by one ring road after another. The most recent is the Sixth Ring Road, 15-20 km from central Beijing. The city may be expanding but the desert is also encroaching on it. Beijing is plagued by sandstorms howling in from Inner Mongolia, reducing visibility to below 50 metres and forcing people to wear masks and stay indoors to protect their lungs. In 2005, one storm dumped almost 330,000 tons of sand and dirt on the city. Along with incessant coal burning and heavier traffic, these regular sandstorms are causing severe air pollution. Over the last 50 years, temperatures have increased, particularly in northern China, and are projected to rise at an accelerated rate for the rest of the century. Combined with less predictable rain patterns, this is likely to reduce water supplies in the regions surrounding Beijing, further exacerbating desertification and coating the streets of the city with sand time and time again.
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