The Great Wall of China is some 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 miles) long. It was started in the 5th century BC to protect the northern borders, Beijing and the Imperial Ming Tombs from nomadic groups. Built in sections up to the 16th century, there was significant rebuilding and refurbishment during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the best preserved sections are from this period. Many sections of the wall on the plains are made of compacted earth rather than stone as this was all that was available. Across the mountains, stone was used extensively though there are additionally some trenches and the use of natural barriers provided by rivers and mountains too. This section is at Mutianyu (慕田峪) some 70km (43.5miles) northeast of Beijing in Huairou County. Here the wall, built of granite, is between 7 and 8m high (23 - 26ft) and between 4 and 5m wide (13 to 16ft). There are 22 watchtowers on the 2.25km (1.4mile) Mutianyu section of the wall. This panorama is taken just outside of the wall at Watchtower 12 on the Mutianyu side of the wall. A cable car has been built to take visitors from the car park to just below the wall, though a pathway is still available for those with more stamina. The view from the wall is spectacular, looking over large sections of the wall, the watch towers, mountains and on a clear day, the skyscrapers of Beijing can be made out on the far horizion. The Chinese characters "Study Chairman Mao" has been made in stones on the mountain side below the wall 1.4km (0.8mile) to the northeast of the cable car station, this is 200m wide by 31m high (656ft x 101ft) and can be seen easily from the wall and surrounding areas.
Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, a darling little gem floating around in space.Hm, what is Asia? Who's in on it?China and India are safe bets for Asian nations. Korea, Japan, Thailand, you're fine.Europe? No. Europe would sort of be on the "Asian continent" if not for those pesky Ural mountains dividing things up in the middle, and then also the whole lineage of kings and wealth and nations and the EU and all that "give me my respect" stuff.Russia would probably be happiest as its own continent, so for now we'll leave it in "Eurasia" and just hope the natural gas supplies keep flowing.Pakistan and Afghanistan are dang close to Asia, but politically they show up in "Middle East" news stories an awful lot. Verdict: Eurasia.I guess we'll actually have to consider everything from Turkey on eastward to be "Eurasian", although the moniker seems overlappitory of the territory.The Asian economy is now officially raging like a wild furnace of lava that consumes everything in its path. Japan has had the largest individual economy in Asia for decades, but it is forecast that both India and China will outstrip Japan within twenty years.China is the largest holder of United States debt and is positioned to become the world's next superpower, provided that Godzilla doesn't return and decide to stomp everybody back into the Shang Dynasty.Text by Steve Smith.