The Chang Cheng

China’s Great Wall is one of the world’s great feats of engineering and an enduring monument to the strength of an ancient civilization.
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China’s iconic Great Wall, actually a network of fortifications rather than a single structure, is the product of countless labors over a period of some two thousand years. Qin Shi Huang took the remnants of truly ancient fortifications, walls, and earthworks begun in the fifth century B.C. and linked them into a unified wall circa 220 B.C. as part of a massive project to protect China against marauding barbarians from the north.
By the time construction on most of the stone-and-brick Great Wall, with its turrets and watchtowers, was completed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) the chang cheng (which is the Chinese name for the great wall) had become the world’s largest human-made object.
A recent government mapping project revealed that the entire Great Wall structure spans some 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) from the Korean border west into the Gobi desert. Of that total 3,889 miles (6,259 kilometers) were actual wall, while 223 miles (359 kilometers) were trenches and (1,387 miles) 2,232 kilometers were natural defensive barriers, like rivers or steep hills, incorporated into the system.
Though new sections of the wall have recently been uncovered, several sections of the structure have vanished during the past half century or so. Mao Zedong himself encouraged destruction of parts of the wall and reuse of its materials in the 1950s, and rural farmers still make use of the wall’s earth and stone for practical purposes.
Some 50 percent of the original ancient structure has already disappeared, and perhaps another 30 percent lies crumbling into ruins—even as Chinese and international organizations struggle to preserve what remains of this unique treasure.
Reference: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/great-wall-china — edited by An-Nuur Press Agency

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