Beijing is the capital of China, theoretically situated in the north of the country, though as the constant smog over the city has yet to clear, confirmation of this is impossible. A city thousands of years old, it is replete with everything a modern historical capital has to offer, including historical palaces, modern skyscrapers, and smog (first two not usually visible).
The earliest humans remains in Beijing date to 250,000BC. Homo erectus fossils have been found in the nearby village of Zhoukoudian, believed to have died after inhaling prehistoric smog from mammoth-tusk factories.
Beijing was first established in 1045BC by the state of Ji, who valued the high-quality dust blowing in from the Gobi Desert. When he unified China, Qin Shi Huang wanted to make Beijing his capital and live there permanently, but the disappointing lack of power struggles and regular floods from the Yellow river there meant that he ultimately chose Xianyang as his capital.
During the Yuan Dyansty, Kublai Khan built Khanbaliq on the site of modern Beijing to be his capital, as the sandstorms reminded him of his native Mongolia. Many smog factories were built in the city, making the sweet smell of pollution 7 days a week. Due to the smog, enemies attacking the city would asphyxiate within minutes. This kept out all invaders until Ming rebels had the idea of wearing gas masks and hazmat suits. After 2 months in the dust cloud trying to locate the capital, they finally found it and killed the Mongols, who unsurprisingly did not see them coming.
Due to the smog over the city 365 days a year, satellites are unable to locate it. Most geographers agree that is somewhere in the north of China, possibly east of the Gobi desert, although its precise location is still disputed.
Beijing has a typical smog-influenced arid-particulate climate, characterized by hot, dusty summers and cold, dusty winters. Conditions are generally dry, with an average of 5 hours of sunshine annually. Located downwind of the Gobi desert, Beijing receives a nourishing supply of desert sand throughout the year.
Beijing is a major hub in China's road network. It is served by many highways, giving millions of people the opportunity to get stuck in a traffic jam on an expressway rather than a city street. The expansion of the road network in recent years has seen traffic jams on surface roads disappear and worse traffic jams appear on the ring roads and highways. These last through the entire day, the vehicles contributing to the beautiful city smog.
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A miracle of road design, the new Xizhimen Interchange, built in 1999, "decreased" traffic jam times from 2 hours to 8. Designed using CAD and a tangled ball of string, it is praised by drivers for the short times needed to cross it, provided you are in a bulldozer.
Although Beijing's air is usually smoggy, sometimes the air can unexpectedly become clear. This causes major health issues, such as fresh air bronchitis and breathing difficulties. Thousands were hospitalised in the 2008 Beijing clear air incident shortly before the Olympics. Today, fresh air warnings are sent out at least 24 hours in advance so residents can stay indoors when PM2.5 levels drop to an unhealthy low.