1) People have been living in the Beijing area since prehistoric times. Back in the 1920s, anthropologists found Homo erectus fossils just outside the city. The fossils were dubbed “Peking man.”
2) Beijing is one of the “Four Great Ancient Capitals of China,” along with Nanjing, Luoyang, and Xi’an or Chang’an. Beijing was founded 3,000 years ago as the capital of Yan, a state that existed during the Zhou dynasty (1046 -249 BC). Back then, the city was called Ji.
3) Beijing has had many names over the centuries. It gained its current name back in 1403. The rulers of the Ming dynasty called the city Beijing or “northern capital” to distinguish it from Nanjing or “southern capital.”
4) Beijing and Peking aren’t really different names for the same city; they are different transliterations of the same name. In 1949, the Chinese government adopted the pinyin method of transliteration, and that resulted in a lot of apparent name changes.
5) Mandarin is China’s official language. It is derived from the Beijing dialect.
6) Beijing has two official flowers: the Chinese rose and the chrysanthemum.
7) Beijing has a population of 19 million people, making it the second-largest city in China. Only Shanghai, with a population of 22 million, is bigger.
8) Beijing currently has three airports, with a fourth being planned. The military airport, Beijing Nanyuan Airport was established in 1910, making it China’s oldest airport.
9) In 2015, 90.1 million people used the Beijing Capital Airport. That made it the second-busiest airport in the world.
10) The Forbidden City, located in the center of Beijing, is the world’s biggest palatial structure. It contains 980 buildings, including 90 palaces and courtyards, and over 8700 rooms.
11) The actress Zhang Ziyi, who has starred in movies like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, “Memoirs of A Geisha,” and “The House of Flying Daggers,” was born in Beijing in 1979.
12) The Beijing Zoo is the biggest zoo in China and includes an aquarium. It was originally a royal garden called the Wansheng Garden, which means “Garden of 10,000 Animals.”
13) About 370 miles of the Great Wall is located in Beijing, mainly in the suburban areas. A lot of the Wall built near Beijing was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644).
14) The Temple of Heaven, which was built in 1420, is considered Beijing’s holiest imperial temple. The emperor Zhu Di had ordered its construction. Every year, at the winter solstice, the emperor would go to the temple to pray for a good harvest.
15) Baiyun Guan or the White Cloud Temple, once China’s most important Taoist temple, was built in the 8th century. It was used a barracks for some time after the Cultural Revolution. It is now home to around 30 monks and the China Taoism Association.