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Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China (長城 in pinyin: Cháng Chéng, literal meaning: "Long City (Fortress)") is an ancient Chinese fortification, built to protect the Empire of China since the 3rd century BC against the raids of 'barbarians' from Mongolia and Manchuria. The main purpose of the Wall was not to prevent people from crossing but rather to prevent them from bringing their horses.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Structure
3 Recognition
4 See also
5 External links


The Wall was built during the reign of The First Emperor, the main leader of the short-lived Qin dynasty. The Wall was not built out of the blue, but created by the joining of several local walls built by the Warring States. It has been renovated and extended by several later dynasties, getting most of its current shape during the Ming Dynasty. The Wall stretches over a formidable 6,400 km, from the boundary with Korea on the Yalu River (Yalu Jiang) to the Gobi desert.

There have been four major discrete constructions and renovations:

  1. 208 BC (the Qin Dynasty)
  2. 1st century BC (the Han Dynasty)
  3. 1138 - 1198 (the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period)
  4. 1368 (the Ming Dynasty)

The Ming Dynasty Great Wall starts on the eastern end at Shanhai Pass (山海关 shan1 hai3 guan1), Qinghuangdao, in Hebei Province next to Bohai Gulf. Spanning nine provinces and 100 counties, it ends on the western end at Jiayu Pass (嘉峪关 jia1 yu4 guan1) located in northwest Gansu Province. Jiayu Pass was intended to greet travelers along the Silk Road. Even though The Great Wall ends at Jiayu Pass, there are watchtowers (烽火台 feng1 huo3 tai2) extending beyond Jiayu Pass along the Silk Road. These towers communicated by smoke to signal invasion.

The Manchus crossed the Wall by convincing a crucial general Wu Sangui to open the gates of Shahai Pass and allow the Manchus to cross. After they conquered China, the Wall was of no strategic value as the people who the Wall was intended to keep out were ruling the country.

The government ordered people to work on the wall, and workers were under constant danger of being attacked by brigades. Because many people died while building the wall, it is often called the "longest cemetery on Earth".

"First Gate Under Heaven" under repairs in October 2003. Shanhai Pass, Hebei


Significant passes (關口) include: The Wall is in disrepair, serving as a playground for some villages and a source of stones to rebuild houses and roads. Sections of the Wall are also prone to graffiti. Parts have been bulldozed because the Wall is in the way of construction projects. The China Great Wall Society works to preserve the Wall. Through June, 2003, the Chinese government still had no laws written to protect the Wall.


The Wall is sometimes considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but it was actually unknown in ancient Greece when the "wonders of the world" were listed.

The Wall was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

There is an untrue urban legend that the Great Wall is the only man made object that can be seen from space or from the moon. The Great Wall cannot be seen from the moon. It can be seen from low earth orbit, but so can many other man made structures.

See also

External links