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Beijing was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium A. Beijing has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, as well as parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, all popular locations for tourism.Siheyuans, the city's traditional housing style, and hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing.An older English spelling, Peking, is the postal romanization of the same two characters as they are pronounced in Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries.Although Peking is no longer the common name for the city, some of the city's older locations and facilities, such as Beijing Capital International Airport, with IATA Code PEK, and Peking University, still use the former romanization.During the Three Kingdoms period, it was held by Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao before falling to Cao Cao's Wei Kingdom.The AD 3rd-century Western Jin demoted the town, placing the prefectural seat in neighboring Zhuozhou.The first walled city in Beijing was Ji, a city from the 11th to 7th century BC.Within modern Beijing, Ji was located around the present Guang'anmen area in the south of Xicheng District.
Beijing CBD is quickly becoming the center for Beijing's economic expansion, rapid modernization, and radically changing skyline, with the ongoing or recently completed construction of multiple skyscrapers.
The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010,, the city's subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world, after Shanghai's subway system. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for much of the past eight centuries.
With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital.
During the Sixteen Kingdoms period when northern China was conquered and divided by the Wu Hu, Beijing, as Jicheng, was briefly the capital of the Xianbei Former Yan Kingdom.
After China was reunified during the Sui Dynasty, Beijing, known as Zhuojun, became the northern terminus of the Grand Canal.