Anyone thinking of moving to Beijing will know that the city is both the capital and the seat of political power in the People’s Republic of China. You may or may not also know that the city also holds some fascinating ancient pieces of landscaping and architecture such as Beihai Park and The Forbidden City. Given that Beijing is a city which is 3000 years in the making, and along the way, it’s little surprise that there are many interesting things about the city that you never knew about. If you’re looking to brush up on your Beijing knowledge before relocating abroad with Santa Fe, here are 5 fun facts about Beijing you probably never knew.
Beijing was the 16th name given to the city
Beijing wasn’t always called Beijing. In fact, the city has such a rich and deep history, with different people throughout the centuries all vying for control of what was once known as the City of Ji. Interestingly, Beijing literally translates as Northern Capital; it has also been known as Nanjing (Southern Capital), Zhongdu (Central Captial), Dadu (The Great Capital), Yanjing (The Yan Capital) and Beiping (Central Peace).
Beijing is the second largest city in China
Despite being the capital of China, Beijing is actually smaller than Shanghai. This isn’t surprising considering that Shanghai is the world’s largest city by population. Beijing is still rather quite populous however, with a population of 22 million in 2015. As far as municipalities go, Beijing isn’t the largest either; Beijing is only the second-largest direct-controlled municipality in China. Chongqing, in the middle of China and to the south west, is larger than Beijing.
Beijing is one of the bicycle capitals of the world
Like Amsterdam, the true bicycle capital of the world, Beijing is big on bikes. Despite motor vehicles being extremely popular in the city, there’s nothing quite like a bike for your morning commute. There is a huge amount of Beijing real estate dedicated to bicycle parking too, so you needn’t worry about where to park your bike when getting around the capital; you can just jump on your bike and see the city at your own leisure.
Wang is the most popular surname in the city
According to a recent census, the most popular surname in Beijing is Wang, with an impressive 11% holding the name. To put that in perspective, the most common surname in the London is Smith, at 0.47% of the population; the most common surname in Tokyo is Suzuki – a name which accounts for 13% of the entire Japanese population. As you can see, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in Beijing before you meet someone named Wang.
China’s official language is mostly based on the Beijing Dialect
China’s official language, Mandarin, is mostly based on the Beijing dialect. The official point of view is that both proper pronunciation in pǔtōnghuà (standard Chinese) and guóyǔ (Mandarin Chinese) is based on the Beijing dialect and accent. There are couple of differences in regional vocabulary and grammar, as with any country, though by and large, the Beijing dialect is the thing you want to learn if you’re moving to China. As a result, if you want to learn the Chinese language, there are few places better to learn it than Beijing!