Beijing, Hebei Province, People's Republic of China, Asia

Founded: c. 723 B.C.; First Known as Beijing: 1421
Location: North China Plain
Time Zone: 8 PM Chinese time=noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: Han, 96.2%
Elevation: 30–40 m (100–130 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 39°55'N, 166°25'E
Coastline: None
Climate : Continental monsoon climate in a temperate zone, with long winters and hot, rainy summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 12°C (53°F); January–4°C (24°F); July 26°C (79°F)
Average Annual Precipitation: 635 mm (25 in)
Government: Centrally administered by the national government
Weights and Measures: Metric system, with some use of traditional Chinese units
Monetary Units: Yuan (also called kuai); Monetary system called Renminbi ("people's currency") (abbreviation: Rmb)
Telephone Area Codes: 10 (Beijing area code); 86 (China country code)

2. Getting There

Beijing is situated in the southern part of the North China Plain, with the Taihang and Yanshan mountains to the north and west and a flat plain to the southeast, leading to the Bohai Sea, where the five rivers that run through the city come together and empty out. About two-thirds of the city's total land area is hilly.


Highways radiate outward in all directions from Beijing: northeast to Chengdo; eastward to Tangshan; southeast to Tanggu and Tianjin; southward to Hengshui, Baoding, and Shijiazhuang; southwest to Laiyuan; and northwest to Zhangliahou.

Bus and Railroad Service

Trains are the most commonly used mode of passenger transportation in China, and Beijing is the nation's rail hub, serving as the terminus for many rail lines. Service is provided between Beijing and all Chinese provinces except Tibet. Beijing has four main train stations, of which the largest is the recently built West station in the southwest part of the city. Nearly every city in China, as well as many towns, can be reached from Beijing by train.

Long-distance bus service is used primarily to travel between Beijing and its suburbs, or to nearby cities. However, some bus lines travel as far as Shanghai or Qungdao.


Beijing Capital Airport, located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the central city, is China's major international airport. Its domestic and international terminals are located in the same building, with a new international terminal under construction. Scheduled flights connect Beijing with Shanghai, Canton, and all other major Chinese cities and tourist sites. There are direct flights to many international capitals, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and Berlin. Nanyuan Airport, south of Beijing, is used for domestic flights.

Beijing Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 6–8 million
Area: 750 sq km (290 sq mi)
Nicknames: The Celestial City, The Northern Capital, The Center of the World

Metropolitan Area

Population: 12,033,000
Description: Beijing Administrative Zone, which includes the city and its outskirt
Area: 16,800 sq km (6,486 sq mi)
World population rank1: 12
Percentage of national population2: 0.9%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.3%
Ethnic composition: 96.2% Han; 3.8% Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, and 52 other groups


  1. The Beijing metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of China's total population living in the Beijing metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Buses are the most popular means of transportation in Beijing. The city has over 200 bus and trolley routes, and the buses are always packed. They run every five to ten minutes, from 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Tickets, which are inexpensive, are purchased after the passenger has boarded the bus, and the fare varies according to the distance traveled. Minibuses are also available, primarily for traveling to tourist attractions or railway stations.

Beijing has two subway lines, the east-west First Line, which runs from the western suburb of Xidan to the center of the city (and is slated to be extended to the eastern suburbs), and the Circle Line, which follows a circular route that corresponds to the former location of Beijing's original city walls. The subway is faster and less crowded than the bus lines but does not travel to all spots in the city.

Taxicabs have become increasingly popular in the past decade, and it is now easy to hail one of the many cabs that cruise the city streets and offer a convenient but relatively inexpensive alternative to the bus or subway.


Organized tours are offered by China's tourism agencies, of which the two major ones are the China International Travel Service (CITS) and the China Travel Service (CTS). CITS offers a variety of "Dragon Tours," which include such attractions as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, and rickshaw rides.

22. For Further Study


Beijing Centre for Planning, ""Beijing Window." [Online] Available (accessed April 14, 2000).

China Travel System [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Excite Travel, "Destination: China." [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Government Offices

Ministry of Supervision
4 Zaojunmiao
Haidian Qu
Beijing 100081

State Development and Planning Commission
38 Yuetannan Jie
Xicheng Qu
Beijing 100824

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

China International Travel Service (CITS)
103 Fu Xing Men Nei Dajie
Beijing 100800

China Travel Service (CTS)
Beijing Tourist Building
28 Jianguomenwai Dajie, 100022

State Bureau of Tourism
Jie 3
Jian Guo Men Nei Dajie
Beijing 100740


China Daily
15 Huixin Dongjie
Chaoyang District, 100029

Gongren Ribao
Andingmen Wai

Nongmin Ribao
61 Guxing Lu

Renmin Ribao
2 Jin Tai Xi Lu


Baldwin, Robert F. Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Beijing. Illustrations by Ray Webb. Minneapolis: Runestone Press, 1999.

Cohn, Don, and Zhang Jingqing Beijingwalks. New York: H. Holt, 1992.

Elder, Chris, ed. Old Peking: City of the Ruler of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Lin, Yutang. Imperial Peking. New York: Crown Publishers, 1961.

Lindesay, William, and Wu Qi. Beijing. Lincoln-wood, IL: Passport Books, 1997.

Meyer, Jeffrey F. The Dragons of Tiananmen: Beijing as a Sacred City. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

Salisbury, Harrison Evans. Tiananmen Diary: Thirteen Days in June. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.

Shi, Tianjian. Political Participation in Beijing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Sit, Victor F.S. Beijing: The Nature and Planning of a Chinese Capital City. New York: Wiley, 1995.

Strand, David. Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.