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From Defense to Tourism: Why Was The Great Wall of China Built?

Today, people associate “The Great Wall” with a slang term of Chinoys being discouraged from dating someone outside their ancestry. The fundamental reason for building this Great Wall is to preserve culture and tradition, which explains the evident preference for Chinese over non-Chinese. But what about the actual Great Wall of China? Have you ever wondered why it was built? What did the ancient Chinese use it for? Today, let’s talk about The Great Wall and how it was able to protect, promote culture, and boost the economy of ancient China.

It Helped Soldiers Communicate and Ask for Reinforcement

The Great Wall was more than just a wall; it was a complex military defense structure that linked beacon towers, fortifications, and important routes. Troops were stationed before in beacon towers to observe the enemy’s location from a distance and to relay combat signals to other soldiers that were stationed at the next beacon tower. This was to ensure that the army was always ready to fight. 

Each stronghold had a large number of troops stationed there. When one stronghold was attacked, reinforcements could be swiftly supplied from other fortresses, and strategic passages along the wall made this possible. This defense barrier was reinforced in this situation to safeguard the people and land.

It Helped Provide Supplies Easily

During the fights, troops’ fundamental necessities were met by daily supplies like food, weapons, and horses. As the country’s border was relatively long and the combat terrain may be quite steep, it could not ensure that supplies would be delivered to the battlefield on time. However, the Great Wall made this possible, allowing soldiers to transport supplies more simply and conveniently along it. 

It Boosted Economy & National Integration

In ancient times, the Central Plain to the south of the Great Wall generally maintained a progressive agricultural economy, and the nomadic country to the north of the Great Wall mostly established an animal husbandry economy. During peacetime, these two types of economies traded daily items along the Great Wall. The Central Plains inhabitants sold grain and fabric to nomadic tribes, while the nomadic tribes exported horses and animal goods like leather and thread to the Central Plain along the walls.

It Protected the Silk Road

During the Han Dynasty, the Emperor sent an emissary to the Western Regions, which led to the development of the Silk Road. In addition, the emperor directed the construction of the Great Wall along the Hexi Corridor, a portion of the Silk Road. This effort ensured the safety of the Silk Road, which facilitated cultural, political, and economic trade between China and other countries.

The Great Wall Today

The Great Wall of China is the world’s longest man-made construction, stretching hundreds of kilometers, but that isn’t its sole significance. It symbolizes China’s unity. It was formed following the Warring States Period when the First Emperor of Qin linked the walls of Yan, Zhao, and Qin. The Great Wall is also a testament to China’s history and might. It was constructed over a 2,000-year span by millions of Chinese laborers (7th century BC – 17th century AD). The Great Wall is also a popular theme in Chinese literature. To honor and remember the Wall, a phrase from the Chinese national song is sung. Furthermore, numerous expressions and sayings about this amazing man-made wonder have been passed down from generation to generation.

Ironically, the Great Wall was constructed to keep outsiders out, but it now draws approximately four million domestic and international tourists each year to admire its historical and architectural splendor, as well as the magnificent countryside that is visible from the wall.

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