Ten Surprising Facts about the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall near Beijing. Fifth tower west of Badaling Pass, taken from fourth tower.

The Great Wall near Beijing. Fifth tower west of Badaling Pass, taken from fourth tower.

The Great Wall of China is an amazing landmark. You may have seen a picture of the wall, but do you really know about it? Here we examine some surprising things you may not know about the Great Wall.

1. What is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China is a huge wall built on the traditional border of China. It is not one continuous segment, but several parts, with trenches and rivers and other barriers in between pieces.

 2. Why was it built?

The wall was originally built to protect the Chinese Empire from intrusion. It is easier to keep people out than fight them once they are in, so China constructed the Great Wall.

 3. How long is it?

The wall is about 5500 miles long. This includes almost 4000 miles of actual wall, plus about 200 miles of trenches, and 1300 miles of natural defense, such as a river or a hill.

 4. Many smaller walls

The Great Wall didn’t start out so great. It was originally many other, smaller walls. Eventually these walls fell due to invasion or deterioration. The small walls were rebuilt and connected to each other, forming the Great Wall.

5. Ming Dynasty

Although many walls were built during many different periods, what remains now is mostly the product of the Ming Dynasty. This was from 1368 until 1644. The Ming Dynasty is the largest and most famous contributor to the Great Wall. Over all it took about 2000 years to build.

6. Deaths while building

There are many rumors surrounding the building of the wall. Some claim the wall is full of human remains, from all those who died during the build. Although no remains have been found, many did lose their lives building the wall. The exact number is unknown, and it thought to be as high as one million.

7. What is it made of?

If the wall isn’t made of human bones, what is it made of? Well, there are lots of materials used in the wall. Wood is even used in some places. Most of the wall is made up of rammed earth, adobe, stone, and bricks.

 8. Records

The Great Wall is the longest structure ever human made. It was widely rumored to be able to be seen from the moon, but this is only a rumor. It is still one of the most impressive man made things on Earth.

 9. Condition

Less than 30% of the wall is in good condition. Some areas are expected to be lost to erosion within 20 years. Other places suffer from human use. There are currently two groups who work to protect the wall and keep it standing for future generations. They are the China Great Wall Society and the International Friends of the Great Wall.

 10. Tourist attraction

Today, the Great Wall attracts many visitors. As many as 50 million people who live outside of China visit the wall every year. The wall gets even more visitors if you include China natives.


Learn more with at these Great Wall of China websites.

The Great Wall Of China (Aladdin Picture Books)
The Great Wall Of China (Aladdin Picture Books)
by Leonard Everett Fisher
- Usually ships in 24 hours
Price: $3.15

The Great Wall: From Beginning to End
The Great Wall: From Beginning to End
by Michael Yamashita, William Lindesay
- Usually ships in 24 hours
Price: $18.95

Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
by Francis Troumdal
(Kindle Edition)