Beijing, or Peking, China, the nation's capital and second largest city. It lies on the edge of the North China Plain in the northeastern part of the country, about 90 miles (145 km) inland from the Bo Hai, an arm of the Yellow Sea. Beijing constitutes a special municipality called a shih, which covers 6,870 square miles (17,790 km2) and is one of China's major administrative units. In addition to the central city, the municipality includes suburbs, rural communities, and extensive farmland.
Beijing is built on a site occupied by a succession of cities since ancient times. The core of the present city consists of an area made up of the Inner and Outer cities, which were laid out and walled in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Ming dynasty. Some of the old walls and gates remain.
The larger Inner City contains the Forbidden City (also called the Imperial Palace). For hundreds of years the Forbidden City was the residence of the emperor and was off limits to those without imperial permission to enter. Also in the Inner City are spacious parks and gardens and a chain of reservoirs. Just south of the Forbidden City is 98-acre (40-hectare) Tiananmen Square, the heart of modern Beijing, used for parades and other official ceremonies. It is surrounded by public buildings, notably the Great Hall of the People, home of the National People's Congress; two historical museums; and the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao. From the Gate of Heavenly Peace on the north side of the square Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. The rest of the Inner City and most of the Outer City consist of commercial and residential areas. Industry is concentrated in the adjoining suburbs.