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summerpalacephoto by: rene huizenga[Change image] | [Upload image]Beijing means 'Northern Capital' and in many ways the name speaksfor itself. It is the capital of the People's Republic of China and thecapital of bureaucrats. The whole country supposedly runs on Beijingtime and is supposed to speak the Beijing dialect. From here theChinese Communist Party rules over its enormous empire while further tothe south, you will find more and more free trading with newcapitalists, having contributed to form the new face of China over thelast decades.

Beijing has come a long way from the dusty communist capital ofthe seventies and eighties to a modern city with the usual high risingbuildings and shopping malls. At the same time, hotel and restaurantstandards have improved enormously. It may not yet be able to competewith Hong Kong or Shanghai, but in its runup to the 2008 Olympics, itis trying real hard.

Naturally, Beijing has some of the most superb examples of Chinesearchitecture. No other place in China offers such a large number of oldbuildings as Bejing. On top of that, Beijing is one of the moreconvenient starting points for visiting The Great Wall.

Geographical Features

Beijing is around 39o56' N, 116o20' E, and at an elevation of 44.38meters above sea level. The total area of Beijing city is approximately750 sq. km (290 sq. mi). Beijing has a very orderly design, which long,straight boulevards and avenues are crisscrossed by a network of lanes.The extensive Yanshan Mountain range forms a screen to the northeast,the long, winding Taihang Mountain range to the west. Just beyond, tothe northwest, the vast Mongolian plateau begins. Beijing has acontinental monsoon climate commonly found in the temperate zone withfour definite seasons. Summer and winter are the two longest seasonswith fall and spring being the shortest. The climate varies accordingto the season with autumn being the most pleasant time to visit. Autumnis usually clear with cool temperatures, while winter is dry and, attimes, bitterly cold with temperatures dropping below 5 degrees Fo(-15Co). Spring is usually dry but very windy, while the summer is rainyand hot with temperatures soaring above 100 Fo (38 Co). In winter,cold, dry winds blow out of Siberia and Mongolia in the northwest; insummer, warm, moist air currents from the southeast take over. Ageneral change of wind direction occurs in March or April and again inSeptember. Wind velocity in Beijing is comparatively low, averaging 2meter/second. The average annual rainfall of 630 millimeters isregarded as a generous"heavenly endowment" for North China, which isotherwise predominantly dry and short of rain. The coldest month inBeijing is January, with an average temperature -4.7Co, while thehottest month is July, with an average of 26.1Co. Rapid temperatureincreases in the spring are often accompanied by sandstorms, butwindless days in that season are wonderfully pleasant. Autumn, thoughshort-lived, is a concentrated stretch of clear, crisp days andpatchwork trees.PeopleBeijinghas over 13.8 million people, 9 million of which are temporaryresidents. In Beijing, the permanent residents are from all of thedifferent ethnic groups such as Mongolian, Manchurian, Korean, etc.found in China with the Han's comprising over 95% of the population.Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken in Beijing, with Beijing'sdialect being the standard form of Mandarin, while there are aconsiderably vast number of English speakers now. The major organizedreligions are Daoism (or Taoism), Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islamic.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: http://www.china-tour.cn/cityguides/beijing.htm

ContributorsSeptember 26, 2006changeby williamchang (2 points)September 27, 2006changeby giorgio

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