Beijing Travel Guide
Beijing(北京) means 'Northern Capital' and in many ways the name speaks for itself. It is the capital of the People's Republic of China and the capital of bureaucrats. The whole country supposedly runs on Beijing time and is supposed to speak the Beijing dialect. From here the Chinese Communist Party rules over its enormous empire while further to the south, you will find more and more free trading with new capitalists, having contributed to form the new face of China over the last decades.
Beijing has come a long way from the dusty communist capital of the seventies and eighties to a modern city with the usual high rising buildings and shopping malls. At the same time, hotel and restaurant standards have improved enormously. It may not yet be able to compete with Hong Kong or Shanghai, but in its runup to the 2008 Olympics, it is trying real hard.
Naturally, Beijing has some of the most superb examples of Chinese architecture. No other place in China offers such a large number of old buildings as Bejing. On top of that, Beijing is one of the more convenient starting points for visiting The Great Wall.
Beijing is around 39o56' N, 116o20' E, and at an elevation of 44.38 meters above sea level. The total area of Beijing city is approximately 750 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, to the northwest, the vast Mongolian plateau begins. Beijing has a continental monsoon climate commonly found in the temperate zone with four definite seasons. Summer and winter are the two longest seasons with fall and spring being the shortest. The climate varies according to the season with autumn being the most pleasant time to visit. Autumn is usually clear with cool temperatures, while winter is dry and, at times, bitterly cold with temperatures dropping below 5 degrees Fo(-15 Co). Spring is usually dry but very windy, while the summer is rainy and hot with temperatures soaring above 100 Fo (38 Co). In winter, cold, dry winds blow out of Siberia and Mongolia in the northwest; in summer, warm, moist air currents from the southeast take over. A general change of wind direction occurs in March or April and again in September. Wind velocity in Beijing is comparatively low, averaging 2 meter/second. The average annual rainfall of 630 millimeters is regarded as a generous"heavenly endowment" for North China, which is otherwise predominantly dry and short of rain. The coldest month in Beijing is January, with an average temperature -4.7Co, while the hottest month is July, with an average of 26.1Co. Rapid temperature increases in the spring are often accompanied by sandstorms, but windless days in that season are wonderfully pleasant. Autumn, though short-lived, is a concentrated stretch of clear, crisp days and patchwork trees.
Beijing has over 13.8 million people, 9 million of which are temporary residents. In Beijing, the permanent residents are from all of the different 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's dialect being the standard form of Mandarin, while there are a considerably vast number of English speakers now. The major organized religions are Daoism (or Taoism), Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islamic.
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