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The Great Wall of China , here seen at Badaling, is no doubt one of the major highlights of a trip to China.
There is varying information available on the actual length of the wall. Normally, a length of 6800 km is assumed. The start of wall construction reach back to 656 AD, when the Chu Empire erected the first wall as a defense against the State of Qi.
Following unification of the Empire, the first Chinese Emperor Qinshi had the initial wall section connected to a common wall. At times there were up to 100,000 soldiers and 800,000 forced laborers involved in building the wall. If they died on the job, they were buried in the wall. Large sections of the wall later lost importance, as these sections ran through independent territory. Only during the Ming Dynasty was the wall completely restored and served as protection against the Mongolians who returned to the north after the Yuan Dynasty was toppled.
The wall’s importance was not just for defense purposes, however. The Great Wall was very important as a connecting road, a path of transport and communication and providing lodgings for troops and storage for weapons and munitions.
In 1987, the Great Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.