The Forbidden City in Beijing, China - Flickr user Olekvi
China has lured travelers in search of adventure and exotic culture for centuries. Today, international visitors are heading in droves to this emerging economic and cultural powerhouse. A popular destination is the nation’s capital: Beijing. With almost 20 million inhabitants, Beijing is the second largest city in China and is filled with fascinating historical sights. But how much do you know about Beijing? Here are five things you might not know about Beijing.
1. Beijing used to be called Peking. The English name was changed when the Chinese adapted a different Romanized system of spelling in 1979. The city’s name is still the same in Chinese, but the English writing of “Beijing” more accurately reflects the Chinese pronunciation than Peking. In Chinese, the name means “northern capital”.
2. Beijing Airport is the second busiest airport in the world based on passenger volume. Beijing Capital International Airport sees around 70 million passengers rolling their luggage wheels through the three terminals in an average year. It is also one of the cleanest. In 2009 it was named as the World’s Best Airport by Condé Nast Traveler, receiving praise for its general cleanliness and customer service.
3. It has a Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the name of the imperial palace occupied for 500 years by the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Conveniently located in the middle of the Beijing, the Forbidden City is one of China’s top tourist attractions. This opulent political house was the ceremonial center for the Chinese government and today it is home to the Palace Museum.
4. Beijing is the best place to eat Peking Roast Duck. If you love the Chinese delicacy of Peking Roast Duck, then you are obliged to try it in the city where it originated. Of course, every chic restaurant, hole-in-the-wall diner and street cart offers its own version of juicy slices of duck meat with crispy skin. Be sure to try them all on your own Beijing city tour!
5. Beijing battles air pollution. The Chinese government aggressively battled air pollution in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics and continues to employ a variety of tools to improve air quality. Steps include moving high pollution factories outside the city, improving efficiency to reduce the 2,500-3,000 tons of coal used daily in Beijing, working on public transportation campaigns, and other efforts to reduce the environmental impact of heavy industry, 5 million cars and 20 million people.
Were these facts no-brainers for you? Then check out this extremely challenging quiz about China.
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