Historical evidence shows that Beijing has been in existence for over 3,000 years. However, the discovery of "Peking Man", an ancestor of homo sapiens who lived in the area 200,000 to 400,000 years ago, shows that the area has a history of human habitation that is very ancient indeed.

During the Western Zhou Dynasty, the emperor gave feudal lords jurisdictions to oversee. At that time, Beijing was called ''Ji City,'' and was the capital of the ''Ji''kingdom. The Eastern Zhou Period replaced the kingdom ''Ji'' with the ''Yan'' kingdom. However, ''Ji'' was still the capital city of the area. When Emperor Qinshihuang unified China in 221 BC, Beijing became a strategic city and local ruling center in the northern part of China. During the Sui Dynasty, Beijing was called ''Zhuo'' and had a population of 130,000. During the Tang Dynasty , Beijing was called ''You.''

During these last two dynasties, Beijing played an important role not only as a military defense post but also as a major trade center. In 938 AD, during the Liao Dynasty, the city became the alternate capital of the ''Liao'' kingdom, which was founded by the Qidan, an ethnic group that lived in northeast China. Because Beijing at that time was located in the southern part of the Liao kingdom, it was renamed 'Nanjing' (meaning 'south place'). In 1115, the Nüzhen ethnic group defeated the Liao Dynasty and established the Jin Dynasty, which in turn founded its capital in Beijing, then called Zhongdu of Jin. The golden Imperial Palace, an extremely grand and luxurious construction, was established in Zhongdu at that time. This was the first time in Beijing's history that the city became a truly significant capital. The Marco Polo Bridge (Lugou Bridge) was built at that time during the Jin Dynasty.

In 1267, Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, constructed a new city in the northeast suburbs of Zhongdu. The building of the city was finished in 1276 and became the capital of the Yuan Dynasty. The Venetian traveler Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to draw to the attention of the West the glory and power of China's capital, which he considered to be without peer in the world.

The current name 'Beijing' emerged during the Ming Dynasty.During the reign of the third emperor, the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing (Peking). The original imperial palace built during the Yuan Dynasty had been destroyed, and it was the Ming Emperor Yongle who built what we currently know as the Forbidden City, which served as the seat of power of the Ming and Qing emperors. After the Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming Dynasty, Beijing remained the capital city. During this time, many structures were built, including the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, and various botanical gardens. On October 10, 1911, during the Xinhai Revolution, the emperor of the Qing Dynasty was forced to abdicate, thus ending the Chinese feudal system. However, the city continued to survive.

In 1928, the Nanjing-based nationalist government of the Republic of China designated Beijing as the Beiping Special Municipality. In 1930, the municipality was renamed Beiping City.

On September 27, 1949, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference decided that the newly created People's Republic of China would base its capital in Beiping (Peking) and renamed the city as Beijing.

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