Great Wall of China a.k.a. Ming Dynasty Wall
The Great Wall of China, also sometimes referred to as the Ming Dynasty Wall, was built as one of four major strategic strongholds for defensive purposes from tribes invading from the north.
The Great Wall stretches approximately 4,000 miles and is one of the largest construction projects ever completed. It was added to the World Heritage List in 1987.
A recent government mapping project revealed that the entire Great Wall structure spans some 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) from the Korean border west into the Gobi desert. Of that total 3,889 miles (6,259 kilometers) were actual wall, while 223 miles (359 kilometers) were trenches and (1,387 miles) 2,232 kilometers were natural defensive barriers, like rivers or steep hills, incorporated into the system.
Though new sections of the wall have recently been uncovered, several sections of the structure have vanished during the past half century or so.
Mao Zedong himself encouraged destruction of parts of the wall and the reuse of its materials in the 1950s. Rural farmers still make use of the wall’s earth and stone for practical purposes.
Some 50 percent of the original ancient structure has already disappeared, and perhaps another 30 percent lies crumbling into ruins—even as Chinese and international organizations struggle to preserve what remains of this unique treasure.