6 CultureShock! China
Five Thousand Years of History
Ever wonder why the Great Wall was built? Or how grand
European architecture ended up watching over the traffic
along the Huangpu River in Shanghai? Or how Chinese
The answers to all of these questions—and many more
—can be found buried within the more than 5,000 years of
history behind the China we know today. Now, 5,000 years
is a lot of time to plough through, so we’re here to bring you
the highlights—Chinese history ‘lite’, a quick march around
the names, places, personalities and passions that inspired
great creations like the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Beijing
Opera and the Bund.
Without a doubt, the sheer length of China’s long cultural and
national history is one of the most striking aspects of this nation
of more than 1 billion people—though the fact that so many
people are living within her borders is itself an astounding fact.
The reality is, China represents the world’s longest shared culture
of any group of people, at any time, anywhere.
That culture was farming and raising livestock as early as
5,000 to 6,000 years ago; developed a writing system almost
4,000 years ago; and by 220 BC had instituted a distinct form
of government—the imperial dynastic system—that shaped
government for centuries.