How Long is the Great Wall of China? — History of Debate

The Great Wall of China is a historical wonder & one of the most visited sites in the world. It annually draws 10,730,000 visitors who are fascinated by the dragon-tail like construction of the place, winding from Eastern China to Western China.

How long is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China

In 2012, the first formal measurement of the world’s biggest man-made creation revealed that the wall is actually twice as long as the estimates given in history books. The Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage submitted an archeological report citing that the wall measured 21,196.18 km (13,170.69 miles). This, no doubt, is much longer than the previous measurement of 8,850 km (5,500 miles) that we have been given to believe, based on historical records. The research findings that came out in 2012 was a culmination of five years of research and study, which calculated the length of structures that were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) and the ruins and desolate structures that were previously ignored. If the ruins before this period are also taken into consideration, the length of the Great Wall of China can be much longer than its recent findings – 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) is a conservative estimate.

History of Great Wall of China

The Great Wall has been built, eroded and rebuilt and linked up with many provinces many times throughout history. It is believed that the construction started as early as 770 BC. There were 3 dynasties that actually contributed to making the Great Wall of China the wonder that it is; these were the Qin dynasty, the Han dynasty and the Ming dynasty. The wall was created to fend off foreign intruders.

Qin Shin Huang who headed the Qin dynasty was the first emperor of China, under whose regime, the Great Wall spanned to a length of 5000 kilometers. During the Han dynasty, The Great Wall extended to a length of 10,000 kilometers. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the length was more than 6,000 kilometers.

Much of what we see of the present-day Great Wall of China dates back to the times of the Ming Dynasty. However, only 8.2 per cent of the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty remain, the rest 74.1 per cent are in a dismal condition, with many of them having collapsed and ruined.

Did you know that..?

  • The Great Wall of China was built over sweat, blood and often lives of countless people. Millions of slaves, servants and prisoners of wars were employed across thousands of years, and made to work in abject conditions, carrying huge stones, bricks and granite on their backs. Historians say that more than 1 million people died building the Great Wall of China.
  • While the length of The Great Wall of China is open to debate, there is no denying the fact that it is the longest man-made structure in the world.
  • Tourists usually visit the ‘Badaling’ area of the Great Wall of China. This place close to Beijing had the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty. It was also the first area of the place that was open to tourists in 1957.
  • It is a myth that the Great Wall of China is visible from the moon and the space. China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei who flew into the space on the spaceship Shenzhou V on October 15, 2003 categorically said that it was nothing but a widely held misconception that the Great Wall can be seen from space.
  • The Great Wall of China is not as formidable as it once was. The officials state that it is prone to attack by natural sources as well as people across the borders. Also, the immense amount of industrial activity, mining, infrastructural development and tourism has deteriorated its structure. The Chinese authorities are work on a monitoring and warning system to preserve its most glorious piece of heritage, so that it can still shine as a historical wonder, for years to come.

Thanks for reading, and commets are welcome!


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