From modern Shanghai to the Great Wall of China just south of Beijing, China is a history teachers dream come true, and believe me it didn't disappoint. I traveled to China in July and August of 2006.  In Shanghai, I was dazzled by the talents of children in the Children's Palace and awed by the beauty and splendor of the Yu Gardens and Old Town. Shanghai's history museum was filled with artifacts from the many Dynasties underlined in the history below and I was surprised to find the new part of Shanghai to be extremely modern and beautiful. In Beijing, I experienced the spectacle of Tiananmen Square, the majesty of the Pandas in the Beijing Zoo and vastness of the Forbidden City.  But, nothing compares to taking a walk on the Great Wall. That was one of the last things I did and it capped off a wonderful trip.

China has the most extensive history in all of the world. No other nation on our planet even comes close. Although Chinese oral history goes back as far as 4000BC with the Yellow River Civilization, Chinese recorded history (confirmed by archeologist) begins with the creation of the Shang Dynasty in 1766 BC. This dynasty gave way to the feudal Kingdom of the Chou Dynasty in 1050 BC. In 475BC the king had lost so much power to the feudal lords that China disintegrated into a period known as the “Warring States Period.” The country is united in 221BC by a brutal warlord who called himself Shi Huangdi, which means “First Emperor.” Shi Huangdi is noted for having the Great Wall of China built. He started the Qin Dynasty which only lasted four years after the death of Shi Huangdi in 206BC. The Qin were replaced by the Han Dynasty which ruled China until it went into another period of chaos in 220AD. That period of chaos, known as the Three Kingdoms Period, lasted until 265AD when Ssu-ma Yen unified the country under the Chin Dynasty. This dynasty was also short lived as China would split into the Northern and Southern Dynasties from 317AD to 589AD. Important Kingdoms during this period included the Chen Kingdom in the south and the Wei and Zhou Kingdoms in the north. China was again united under the Sui Dynasty in 580AD. This Dynasty was replaced by the Tang Dynasty in 618AD. The Tang were largely responsible for returning China back to a period of stability. It’s not until 907AD that the country again returned to a disjointed period known as the period of the “Five Dynasties.” The country was again unified under a weak Song Dynasty which ruled from 960AD to 1279AD. This dynasty actually split the country into the Northern and Southern Song and was constantly under treat from the Liao Dynasty and there successors the Jurchens which ruled Manchuria. By 1279, the Song Dynasty was defeated by the Mongols which set up the Yuan Dynasty. The Mongols would lose control over the country in 1368 and China again became an independent empire under the Ming Dynasty. As a result of a civil war in 1644, the Manchu’s in the north occupied China and set up the Qing Dynasty. Dissatisfaction with the imperial government lead to a revolution in 1911 and the end of the Dynastic period. As a result of this revolution China become a republic in 1912. Sun Yatsen become China’s first president, but he was shortly succeeded Yuan Shikai after two months. Initially China was a constitutional republic, with some pseudo-democratic structures, but in 1914 it become a dictatorship. After the death of Yuan in 1916 China gradually slid into and civil war. The Kuomintang (Republican Party) under Sun Yat-sen governed southern parts of the country until 1917. China was united again under President Chang Kai-shek in 1926. In 1931 the Japanese invaded and occupied parts of the country. In 1937, Japan set up the separate state of Manchukuo. The communist party was formed in by Mao Zedong in 1931. In 1934 the Kuomintang and the Communist united against the Japanese invaders. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, a civil war between the two broke out. The Kuomintang regained control over the country shortly after the war and established a pseudo-democracy. However their rule ended 1949 when the communist conquered the capital Beijing. It’s at this point that China become the People's Republic of China.

To see more pictures of Beijing click here
To see more pictures of Shanghai click here

The Great Wall of China

Shanghai at Night

Images of the Forbidden City

Old and New Shanghai

Tiananmen Square in Beijing