50 Facts About Beijing

Beijing is a world-leading capital city, situated in the northern part of China! It’s one of the most inhabited capital cities in the world, why, I hear you say? That’s easy to answer, it’s jam-packed full of culture, change and history, that’s why! With it’s 7 UNESCO heritage sites, this city is a must-visit place for tourists! So, let’s take a look at some facts to really tickle your fancy before you dash off to book your Beijing flight tickets! 

Fact 1: Asia’s famous and thriving city, Beijing, was previously known as ‘Peking’.

  • “Peking” was first used by the occupying Japanese in 1937. During their surrender in 1945, the Nationalist Government changed the city’s name to “Beiping”, with “Beijing” as the Pinyin romanization. Beijing was adopted in 1958, and it was used internationally in 1979. 

Fact 2: Beijing is the capital city of the ‘People’s Republic of China’.

  • China has been ruled from Beijing for over 700 years.

Fact 3: It’s home to the longest wall in the world!

  • You couldn’t miss this internationally famous wall – the Great Wall of China! It has a length of 3,460 km, so if you’re planning on taking a short walk along the wall think again!

Fact 4: Beijing is also home to the world’s largest palace according to the Guinness World Records!

  • The Forbidden City in Beijing is the largest imperial palace in the world. It’s also known as ‘Gu Gong’ in Chinese. Its area measures 74 hectares and is surrounded by a 10-meter high wall.

Fact 5: ‘Siheyuans’ are common in the urban areas of Beijing.

  • ‘Siheyuans’ are houses that are built in a particular way, so that they create an inner private courtyard for the owners. 

Fact 6: “Beijing” is more than just a name!

  • Pronounced as ‘bay-jing’, ‘Bei’ means northern and ‘jing’ means capital, put together, Beijing literally means “Northern Capital”!

Fact 7: Beijing is also known for its Peking Opera.

  • A trip to Beijing wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Peking Opera! Here you can see a unique and beautiful combination of spoken dialogue, codified action, and songs.

Fact 8: It’s actually smaller than Shanghai.

  • Beijing only ranks second to Shanghai in terms of size in area and population (Shanghai is the most populated city in the world). However, Beijing was chosen as China’s capital city because Shanghai lacked a colourful historical background.

Fact 9: Beijing is known for its calligraphy. 

  • Calligraphy is an art of writing, and can be defined as, “the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skilful manner”. Calligraphy is widely appreciated in the world, but Beijing is home to the finest and most influential calligraphy. 

Fact 10: China’s National Stadium, or the Bird’s Nest, is the world’s largest steel structure and the most complex stadium ever constructed, which happens to be situated in Beijing. 

  • The stadium was built for the Summer Olympics in 2008, and was designed by architect Ai Weiwei.

Fact 11: “Traffic jam” scooters are real in China. 

  • To help people dodge traffic jams you can rent a scooter and a driver to take you to your destination. The driver then drives your car to you.

Fact 12: English is not commonly spoken among Beijing citizens.

  • The English language isn’t taught in Chinese schools, and it isn’t widely introduced in the region. That’s why it’s highly likely you will need a translator or a handy dictionary when you’re touring Beijing.

Fact 13: Beijing has a history that dates back to over 3,000 years ago!

  • It’s one of the world’s 4 ancient civilizations. The first Chinese dynasty being the Shang Dynasty, which started around 1600 BCE.

Fact 14: Beijing is also one of the oldest inhabited areas in the world!

  • There were fossils found in the capital, indicating that Peking Man (Homo erectus) lived there around 770,000 to 230,000 years ago! 

Fact 15: In over 21 centuries, Beijing has been the capital to 6 important Chinese dynasties. 

  • They are: Yan State Capital, Warring States Period (221 BC), Capital of the Yuan Dynasty (1271), Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) Capital (1402), Qing Dynasty capital (1644), Republic of China capital (1912), and the People’s Republic of China (1949).

Fact 16: Beijing has had a series of names: Jicheng (‘City of Ji’), Yanjing (Capital of Yan’), Nanjing (‘Southern Capital’), and Zhongdu (‘Central Capital’).

  • Other names include Dadu (‘Great Capital’), Beiping (‘Central Peace’), and many others. 

Fact 17: There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing!

  • The Great Wall of China
  • The Forbidden City
  • The Summer Palace
  • The Temple of Heaven
  • Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
  • The Grand Canal
  • Peking Man in Zhoukoudian

Fact 18: Cab prices vary a lot, so keep an eye on the stickers.

  • Stickers that are less swanky signify cheap cabs, contrary to those, cool and luxurious stickers signify that you are about to travel in an expensive cab. Some cab fares can vary from 1.6 to 2 RMB.

Fact 19: Food portions in Beijing are big enough to feed the whole family.

  • A single dish can satiate you and your family’s hunger! Chinese dishes are served in large portions, so you will have a hard time finishing a single meal all by yourself!

Fact 20: There are 4 main train stations in Beijing.

  • Beijing West Railway Station 
  • Beijing South Railway Station
  • Beijing Railway Station
  • Beijing North Railway Station 

Fact 21: There are 590 trains running to the capital every day.

  • London only has 543 trains wheezing into the capital during peak days.

Fact 22: An average of 9 million people ride the subway in Beijing every day.

  • That’s almost the same volume as the population of Papua New Guinea!

Fact 23: Crotchless pants are a real thing.

  • Chinese toddlers are frequently seen wearing open-seat pants or “crotchless pants”. These pants come with a split on the crotch area to make it easier for the toddlers to urinate/ defecate. However, as you can imagine, these kinds of pants are considered inappropriate in some Western cultures. 

Fact 24: The iconic story and photograph of the “Tank Man” happened in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

  • This was during a brutal protest in 1989, when people were against government corruption, wanted the freedom of speech, and didn’t like the lack of transparency in China. 

Fact 25: Beijing is surrounded by mountains on 3 sides.

  • Badaling
  • Jundu Mountains
  • Fenghuangling

Fact 26: It’s considered as the ‘culture hub of China’.

  • That’s because Beijing holds the deepest cultural and historic roots in all of China. It has a variety of longstanding arts, architecture, cuisine, and many other cultural facets.

Fact 27: It took 14 years to build the Forbidden City.

  • It was constructed in 1940 during the early Ming Dynasty. There were said to be 1,000,000 workers and 100,000 craftsmen on this huge historic site every day working hard. It was named the “Forbidden City” because commoners were not allowed to enter the palace without permission, only invited high officials, noblemen, and imperial families could enter the kingdom.

Fact 28: The famous Peking Duck cuisine can be traced to the Ming Dynasty.

  • It was about 600 years ago when the roast duck recipe became a household favourite in Beijing before it spread all over the globe. Only the best chefs were allowed to enter the Forbidden City to cook for the emperor, and after the Ming Dynasty, chefs started building restaurants and prepared Peking Duck for local consumption.

Fact 29: In 2018, China’s capital had a population of 21.54 million!

  •  It is almost the same as Australia’s entire population for 2017!

Fact 30: Beijing is 10x bigger than Greater London.

  • It has an area the size of 1,763 square miles, or 4,567 square km. Greater London, on the other hand, runs a vast of 1,569 square km.

Fact 31: There was a Starbucks in the Forbidden City!

  • Starbucks inhabited the Forbidden City from 2000 until 2007. It was removed because locals believed that it damaged the city’s major historical site.

Fact 32: Beijing has 13 institutions of higher education.

  • It also boasts 76 secondary schools, 358 primary schools, including those public and private, and 21 nurseries and kindergartens.

Fact 33: It has 70 colleges and universities.

  • Most of these are public or affiliated.

Fact 34: There were around 656 hospitals in Beijing in 2017.

  • Clearly, there’s no shortage of medical facilities in China’s capital!

Fact 35: Beijing’s International Airport is the world’s 2nd busiest airport in and out of China.

  • Beijing’s airport serves about 100 million tourists annually! Having its own power source, law enforcement, and fire department, it’s a very independent airport that operates as a city on its own. 

Fact 36: Beijing experiences extreme temperatures, Beijing’s temperature can reach as high as 42 °C (109 °F), and can go down as low as -27 °C (-17 °F).

  • If you’re planning to visit Beijing, the best time to go there is in April, May, September, and October.

Fact 37: Beijing will be the first country in the world to host both the summer and winter Olympics!

  • The capital is preparing for its long-awaited second Olympics which is in 2022. 

Fact 38: Inhaling Beijing’s air for 6 days straight has an effect that is the equivalent to smoking a cigarette.  

  • It’s for this reason why locals wear masks when going outdoors. However, China’s air pollution has significantly improved over the years.

Fact 39: Tiananmen Square actually means the “Gate of Heavenly Peace”, which is quite ironic after the controversial massacre in 1989.

  • But the square has an interesting history, before it was tragically tainted with a bloody protest it’s was once one of the largest squares in the world, and it was one of China’s most historic places. 

Fact 40: “Wang” is the most popular surname in Beijing.

  • If London has Smith, Beijing has Wang. 11% of the Beijing population carries the famous family name, Wang! 

Fact 41: Beijing respects a multitude of religions.

  • It encompasses Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. 

Fact 42: Beijing covers an area of 16,800 square kilometres.

  • 38% of this land is flat, while the remaining 62% consists of mountains.

Fact 43: Jet Li is from Beijing!

  • Li Lianje, or better known with his stage name Jet Li, is a Chinese actor, film producer, martial artist, and retired Wushu champion who was born in Beijing. He is known as the Kung Fu master, and he has starred in many famous action-packed movies, like ‘Fist of Legend’.

Fact 44: ‘The Last Emperor’ (1987) was filmed in Beijing.

  • It was the first foreign production to be granted official permission to shoot in the Forbidden City!

Fact 45: The Temple of Heaven used to be the go-to prayer place when you were praying for a good harvest.

  • Many years ago, emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasty visited this place yearly to pray for a good harvest. It’s located in the southeastern part of central Beijing and was declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. 

Fact 46: The Summer Palace is recognized as ‘The Museum of Royal Gardens’.

  • This place is all about the Chinese landscape and horticulture. It features a group of lakes, gardens, and palaces. 

Fact 47: Beijing is one of the bicycle capitals of the world.

  • Amsterdam might be popular for its bicycle culture, but Beijing actually tops the chart! Bicycle riding is a very common means of transportation in the city, with locals riding bikes during peak traffic times to avoid delays.

Fact 48: The National Museum of China is one of the largest museums in the world.

  • Here lie the historic remains of China’s vast and intriguing past. Its main goal is to educate people about China’s history, arts, and culture since time immemorial.

Fact 49: China’s World Trade Center Tower III is the tallest building in Beijing.

  • It has a whopping 81 floors, 4 underground floors, and 30 elevators. It is 330 meters tall and 33rd-tallest building in the world!

Fact 50: Mandarin is mostly based on the Beijing dialect.

  • Mandarin is the national language used in China, and it’s based on the capital’s accent and dialect. 


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