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Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China has a centuries old history and goes back as far as to the 7th century B.C. when China was divided into several independent countries. In order to protect themselves from outside attcks, each of these countries decided to build a high wall which would wind itself for many kilometers across the country.
As the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang began to rule over China, he united the various countries 221 B.C. and ordered the renovation and the extension of each of the former independent countriesâ€™ walls, until they were all connected with each other and the Great Wall was created. In those days the Great Wall had a length of 5000 kilometers and spread itself from Lintao, the western part of China, to Liaodong, in the east of China.
Its formeost mission was first to protect the Chinese Empire from the outside barbarians and the northern border and then in the following two thousand years to ensure the trade. The Great Wall has been improved and elongated many times throughout the following dynasties and was thus adapted to the various needs of defence by the then reigning empires.
Whereas the Han-Dynasty elongated the Great Wall to 10.000 kilometers, the Ming-Dynasty downsized the wall again to 6350 kilometers and focused on the upgrading of their defensive system instead. The part of the wall that can be seen today extends from the Shanhai-pass in the East to the Jiayu-pass in the western Gansu province.
It is often said that millions of slaves, prisoners and soldiers were forced to build the Great Wall of China and many of them have died from exhaustion and starvation. This is why the Wall has been known as "the longest cemetery in the worldâ€ for centuries. The Great Wall has been under a preservation order since 1961 and was added to the world heritage list by the UNESCO in 1987.