Beijing is a municipality directly under the Central Government and the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is not only the nation’s political center, but also its cultural, scientific and educational center, and a key transportation hub. Situated on the north edge of the North China Plain, it is sheltered by chains of mountains to the west, north and east. Its southeastern part is a plain. Beijing’s temperate continental climate produces four clearly contrasted seasons: a short spring, rainy and humid summer, long and cold winter, and a very pleasant autumn.
Beijing emerged as a city as far back as the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 B.C.), when it was known as Ji. During the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), it was the capital of the State of Yan. Ji remained a city of strategic importance and a trade center for the north for well over a thousand years. Then, in the early 10th century, it became the secondary capital of the Liao Dynasty under the name of Yanjing. Between 1115 and 1911, it served in succession as the capital of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, thus becoming a storehouse of Chinese culture, and leaving many historical legacies.