Videos about introduction, China

An introductory guide to TianJin 天津 …

A short 30 minute high speed train ride from BeiJing, TianJin is the largest coastal city in northern China.

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An introduction to the Chinese language for visitors

With HowToChinese and Fluenz ...

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A guide to Hong Kong 香港

The first film is a fast-paced general introduction to Hong Kong.

The second film shows the ferry crossing between Hong Kong central and Cheung Chau island.

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An Introduction to BeiJing

Beijing is the capital of the most populous country in the world - the People's Republic of China.With a population of 15 million, and a high proportion of green space, Beijing is one of the world's most monumental cities - a place of superlatives, with the biggest central square in the world - Tian'AnMen Square - the largest and best preserved imperial palace complex - the Forbidden City - the largest sacrificial complex in the world - the Temple of Heaven - and sections of the world's largest man-made structure - the Great Wall - nearby.

Having already hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is investing billions into becoming an economic powerhouse. Beijing is a fascinating urban destination for tourists keen to immerse themselves in China's long and colourful history and culture - and its unique, vibrant take on city living, 21st century style.

The frenetic building activity is creating a bold and stylish new Beijing that will surprise even if you have visited just two years ago. However, old Beijing is still to be found and is easily explored in the tea-houses and temples, the hutongs and courtyards - and the many museums.

In no other capital on Earth can you enjoy such a wide variety of gourmet restaurants.Beijing offers excellent value dishes from all of China's eight regional styles of cuisine, not to mention Korean, Thai, Japanese and all manner of western dishes too.

Nightlife in Beijing is kaleidoscopic - from dizzying acrobatics, martial arts displays and street theatre to puppetry, outdoor ballroom dancing, the ubiquitous karaoke and trendy nightclubs. In addition, many shops in Beijing are open until 10pm and there are restaurants on every street, often with the choice of outdoor dining under red lanterns.

Beijing's new-found confidence on the world stage is best experienced during an evening spent strolling through this wonderfully welcoming city that retains an intimacy one would find hard to match.


Human activity in the Beijing area dates back around half a million years, to when 'Peking Man' lived in ZhouKouDian, in what is now the southwestern suburbs of today's Beijing. The climate at that time was warmer and more humid than it is today so forests and lakes in the area supported a wide variety of life.

The fossil remains of Peking Man, his stone tools and evidence of the use of fire, as well as later tools of around 18,000 years ago, such as bone needles and articles of adornment from the age known as 'Upper Cave Man' are the earliest cultural relics on record in China today. Indeed, they are among the earliest in the world.

Emperor Wu was the first to declare the site of Beijing as the capital in 1057 BC. Since then, the city has been known by the names Ji, ZhongDu, Dadu, then finally Beijing, when the name was chosen by the Ming Dynasty Emperor ChengZu in 1421.

Before 1949, Beijing was known as Peking in the western world.Beijing was once again the capital only when Mao ZeDong declared the People's Republic of China on October 1st 1949.

'BeiJing' literally means 'north capital', following the common east asian tradition whereby capital cities are explicitly named as such. Another Chinese city similarly named is NanJing, meaning 'south capital'. At various times in history, the capital was declared to be NanJing rather than BeiJing, according to whether the then current power-base lay to the north or south of China.

'YanJing' is another popular informal name for Beijing, a reference to the ancient State of Yan that existed here during the Zhou Dynasty. For example, there is the locally brewed 'YanJing Beer'.


China is bordered by the countries of Indochina to the south, has Russia and Mongolia to the north, rising-star India to the south west, and Korea and Japan to the east.

Beijing's Latitude:

39 55


Beijing's Longitude:

116 23


Today, Beijing City covers an area of about 7,000 square kilometers spanning 38 kilometers from ShiJingShan in the west to TongXian in the east.

Beijing is China's second largest city in terms of population, after Shanghai.

Beijing is widely recognized as the political, educational and cultural center of China, whereas Shanghai and Hong Kong predominate in the economic field.

Beijing Municipality is centered on Beijing City and is equivalent to a province in China's administrative structure. The population is about 15 million of which about 10 million have permanent resident status.

Beijing is an independently administered municipal district, situated in the northeastern part of China at an average elevation of 43m above sea level. Beijing municipality is centered around the capital city and has a total area of 17,000 sq km (about 6,500 square miles), stretching 160 kilometres from east to west and over 180 kilometres from north to south.

Beijing Municipality borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south and, for a small section, in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.

The 38 kilometer long Chang'An ('Eternal Peace') Boulevard that runs from east to west through central Beijing concentrates on state, political and economic affairs. The central areas around the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) and city gates, as well as the lakes - ZhongNanHai, BeiHai and HouHai - have been designated as protected landmark districts that retain the features of Old Beijing.


Following economic reforms, Beijing has evolved to be an important transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and expressways entering and leaving in all directions.It is also the focal point of many international flights to China.

Sadly, although it was probably necessary, most of Beijing's city wall was removed between 1965 and 1969 to make way for the construction of the 2nd Ring Road.

The traffic network now consists of six concentric ringroads (the outer four are expressways), 28 radial roads (9 express ways), and both underground and suburban railways that are being further developed to improve links from the center with outlying areas and surrounding towns, plus several long distance railway routes and an international airport.

Following the economic reforms of Deng XiaoPing, the urban area of Beijing expanded greatly. Formerly within the confines of the 3rd Ring Road, the urban area of Beijing is now pushing at the boundary of the recently-constructed 5th Ring Road and even the 6th Ring Road that is currently under construction. Many areas of Beijing that were formerly farmland have now been developed into residential or commercial neighborhoods, although a mandatory level of green space is actively preserved.

Tourism in Beijing

China is one of the world's most visited countries. Tourism is now increasing rapidly and is forming an ever more important part of the economy. It has been projected that China may become the world's number one tourist destination by 2020.

Historical Beijing is a key attraction. The Forbidden City receives over 10 million visitors each year (foreign and domestic). In 2005, over 3.6 million foreign tourists visited Beijing, constituting an increase of 15% from 2004.

With an eye to the future, an increasing number of historical and cultural sites in Beijing are being renovated and opened to the public, a process that started long before Beijing won hosting of the 2008 Olympics.

Time Zone

Beijing's time zone is UTC/GMT +8 hours. Beijing's time zone is UTC / GMT +8 hours.

The whole of China shares the same time zone. There is no daylight saving time (or 'summer time') at the moment.

Distances from Beijing

The following table shows the distance to various cities in and just outside China.


111 km


913 km

Seoul, Korea

960 km


1,068 km


1,725 km

Hong Kong

2,024 km

Tokyo, Japan

2,098 km


2,556 km

Green City

Beijing is liberally forested and contains many parks, big and small, and its green commitment has put in place many measures to limit pollution and further improve the environment.

For example, in 2005, 8,000 outdated taxi cars and 2,000 buses were phased out and replaced with vehicles meeting newly promulgated, more rigid state standards for pollution control.

New subway lines could make Beijing's subway the world's largest by 2020.

Already with many large parks, Beijing's green space has been increased further in recent years making it a beautiful city to live or visit.

The Economy of Beijing

In 2005, Beijing's nominal GDP was 681.45 billion RMB (about 84 billion USD), a year-on-year growth of 11.1%. Beijing's per capita GDP was 44,969 RMB, an increase of 8.1% from the previous year - nearly twice as much as in the year 2000.

Beijing's industries were worth :

Primary : 9.77 billion RMB

Secondary : 210.05 billion RMB

Tertiary : 461.63 billion RMB

Urban disposable income per capita in Beijing was 17,653 RMB - a real terms increase of 12.9%. If this figure seems low compared to the West, remember that the cost of living in Beijing is also much lower.

Beijing's real estate and automobile sectors have continued to grow very well in recent years. A total of 28.032 million square metres of housing real estate was sold in 2005, for a total of 175.88 billion RMB. In 2004, the total number of automobiles registered in Beijing was 2,146,000 - a year on year increase of 18.7%, Of those, 1,540,000 were privately owned.

The Central Business District (CBD) is centered on the GuoMao area and is home to a variety of regional corporate headquarters, shopping malls and high-end housing. The 'Financial Street', in the FuXingMen and FuChengMen areas, is a traditional financial center. WangFuJing and XiDan are major shopping districts. ZhongGuanCun, often dubbed 'China's Silicon Valley', continues to be a center for electronics and computer-related industries.


Beijing is home to a great number of colleges and universities (about 160), including a number of highly-regarded universities of international stature, including China's two most prestigious institutions: Peking University and TsingHua University. Other well known institutions, domestically and internationally, include Beijing Normal University, Peking University, RenMin (People's) University of China and Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Owing to Beijing's status as the political and cultural capital of China, a larger proportion of tertiary-level institutions are concentrated here than any other place in China, reaching at least 59 in number. Many international students from Japan, Korea, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere come to Beijing to study every year - a growing trend, especially among Western students. At the same time, there has been a big increase in the number of Chinese studying abroad.


People native to urban Beijing speak the Beijing dialect, which belongs to the Mandarin subdivision of spoken Chinese. Beijing dialect provides the basis for Standard Mandarin, the standard Chinese language used in the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore.

A romanised script of chinese called Pinyin is widely used next to the traditional chinese script on signs of all types, including place names.

There is a major drive for people to learn english and younger, educated people often speak it well. You will always find staff in hotels who can speak english. In other places, such as restaurants, this may not be the case, but there is usually someone nearby who will be happy to help.

The Beijing 2008 Olympics & Paralympics

The Summer Olympics began in Beijing on August 8th 2008 (08,08,08) - at 8pm (8 being a 'lucky' number to chinese people). This helped speed up the rate of change in Beijing so that there is now a fascinating mix of old and new, and cultural traditions rub shoulders with a new dynamism.


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