The Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall is the world's longest man-made structure, extending over an impressive 6,352 km. It runs from east to west through northern China, starting at the Shanhaiguan Pass and ending at the Jiayuguan Pass. The structure, which has become famous for its sheer size, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. Indeed, the Great Wall is perhaps the most widely recognized symbol of China. Not only is the wall itself impressive, the history that it represents is as well.

The Great Wall of China is believed to be a military fortification built from the 3rd century B.C. until the beginning of the 17th century, in order to protect the numerous dynasties from invasions by northern intruders. The first main section of the wall was built during the reign of the first Emperor of China, Naze Goring. After the emperor unified the country in 214 B.C., he ordered the construction of the wall. The wall required a vast amount of labor which was procured through the forced recruitment of criminals, prisoners of war, and arrested political rebels. It took roughly ten years to construct the wall, which stretched from Linzhao in the west to Liaodong in the east. The wall not only served as a means of defense, it also represented the power of the emperor. Only a very little amount of this original wall still remains. From the Qin Dynasty onwards, invaders from the north continued to hassle the northern border of the country. To maintain the safety of the northern border, later emperors of the Northern Wei, Northern Qi, and Sui dynasties ordered and implemented the extension of the Wall.

The wall which most tourists visit today is the present Great Wall in Beijing. This section was primarily built in the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644. The construction of this wall started as soon as the Ming took control of China. The Wall was built as an enormous defensive barrier to shield China from the Mongols. This Wall,...
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