New survey's big surprise: China’s Great Wall much longer than previously estimated
The Great Wall of China, as seen near Beijing in March of this year.
June 6th, 2012
10:59 PM ET

New survey's big surprise: China’s Great Wall much longer than previously estimated

China’s first comprehensive measurement of its Great Wall shows it to be 13,170 miles long - thousands of miles longer than previous estimates - state news outlet Xinhua reported this week.

The length of the Great Wall of China - actually a non-contiguous series of defensive systems involving walls, natural barriers and trenches, built from 475 B.C. to 1644 in various areas to fend off invaders - was determined through surveys that began in 2007 at the direction of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Partial results of the survey, announced in 2009, showed that the wall systems built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were 5,499 miles (8,851 kilometers) long, Xinhua reported.

Teams then were instructed to identify and measure pre-Ming Dynasty wall systems throughout China. They found them to be 7,671 miles (12,345 kilometers) in length, said British researcher and author William Lindesay, who studies the Great Wall.

“The figure just announced (13,170 miles, or 21,196 kilometers) is a combination of the length of the Ming plus (the) length of pre-Ming Great Walls,” Lindesay wrote to CNN in an e-mail Wednesday.

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported in 2009 that before the initial survey results were announced, the wall’s length was commonly estimated at about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers).

The new survey report shows that many of the walls are in bad shape. In some sections, only the foundation remains; and only 8.2% of the walls from the Ming Dynasty are whole, according to Xinhua.

Activities such as mining and infrastructure development have damaged the walls, as have people who have taken soil or bricks from the structures, Xinhua reported, citing the report.

The report said that “the saving and preserving of the Great Wall’s relics should not be delayed,” according to Xinhua.

“These surveys are important groundwork in the protection of the walls, as first they need to be identified, location-recorded and measured,” Lindesay wrote in his e-mail to CNN.

Not all of the 13,170 miles represent actual walls. Among the 5,499 miles reported in the Ming Dynasty section in 2009, 223 miles were trenches and 1,387 miles were natural defensive barriers such as rivers or steep hills that were incorporated into the wall system, according to National Geographic.

The Great Wall of China was put on the UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1987.

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Filed under: Architecture • China
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. drap

    Longer Asians ? Is that so... .

    June 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The mind of Minolta

    LOL ! add inches with good photo equipment.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CHin

    The communists and nationalist are distorting history with his " NORTHEAST PROJECT " . China's Northeast Project[ 东北工程 , Northeast Borderland History and the Chain of Events Research Project ] put bilateral ties between Korea,Russia,Mongolian,Manchurian and China in jeopardy. The Han who is different from Manchurian,Mongolian,Korean is distorting their history. The great enemies and rulers of THE HAN people were the Mongolian,Manchurian,KITAN,Goguryeo. both the Goguryeo-Sui battle and the Goguryeo-Tang battle were wars between countries, not regional rebellions.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Great China


      China was a great country and is becoming greater. China used to include many parts. These parts became countries because of the ashamed history when western countries invaded China in Qing dynasty. I can definitly confirm with you Great Wall was builded by great Chinese people. They were doing the awesome job and resisted the outside barrier invaders so they constructed the Great wall. I can also confirm with you Korea was also a part of China. Their are many lier Koreans distort the history. you are so shameless to tell ignorant people this. All of the culture of Korea were originated from Great China. You dont have language and characters in the past. You were using Chinese even until hundred of years ago. Anyway dont lie anymore you shameless Korean

      June 7, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      go ahead and steal TIbetans natural resources just leave the people alone.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CHin

    The mountain fortress and fortress are not Great Wall. It is belongs to Goguryeo( Korea today ),Manchurian not the Han's. Please stop it. Shame on you who are a members of researcher of China's Northeast Project[ 东北工程 ].

    June 7, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • hi

      i agree with you CHin these chinese are trying to take goguryeon history as their own while it's not

      June 7, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Snwshadow

      ShovelinSnow, so you are now hi

      June 7, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
    • New Gawker

      It's all China's. Why do you think you koreans have so many chinese characters in your language? The reality is you're just a subset of the Chinese who branched off. Basically, Korea is china's Canada.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. hi

    china is trying to include ancient korean fortress of jinri and bakjak as part of great wall which is ridiculous. Also they claim parts of russia too!

    June 7, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello

      Accually, Korea doesnt have any history. Their history is China's history. Korea was a part of China. It was China's affiliated region.

      June 7, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. cool

    china is liar

    June 7, 2012 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. wow

    look up goguryeo and you will see that it is korean kingdom and balhae also. China wants to make this their own history because of the wars they lost. it is not chinese kingdom clearly if you know the history. American researcher Mark Byington also accused china of trying to rewrite history! Those fortresses are korean and the world knows it.

    June 7, 2012 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. wow

    Word Korea came from goryeo short for goguryeo

    June 7, 2012 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. CHin

    Battle of Salsu River ( Goguryeo vs Sui on AD612 ) : The Battle of Salsu was an enormous battle that occurred in the year AD 612, during the second Goguryeo-Sui War, between the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo and the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Goguryeo cavalry forces, pursuing the Sui army, attacked and defeated it at the Salsu River.

    When Sui army had reached Salsu (thought to be present-day Chongchon River), the water was shallow. Eulji had already cut off the flow of water with a dam. When Sui army had half crossed the river, Eulji opened the dam, drowning many thousands of Sui soldiers. Goguryeo charged the remaining Sui army. The historical text records that Sui soldiers had to run almost 200 kilometers that day to escape death. The Battle of Salsu contributed to the massive overall casualty figure for Sui during the campaign. Emperor Yang crossed the Liao River to attack Goguryeo, initially, with 305,000 men. Only 2,700 returned.

    Is it Chinese's regional history and the fortress is belongs to China ? The NORTHEAST ares are belongs to Manchurian/KOREAN no the HAN. The people of world/Chinese who is not the HAN is under a deception

    June 7, 2012 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
    • hi

      Korean is lier. Becasue Korea is too small and the population is too weak. So they want to add some properous history which were done by other ethnic groups like Chinese to korean history. It's so ridiculous. Actrually Korean did nothing in the history. korean is a so small ethnic group and a tiny country. who cares about Korea?

      June 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Snwshadow

    ShovelinSnow, so now you are "hi"

    June 7, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    No Zach, we need our boarder open so we can keep America's people high in order to dumb them down. Also to hand over guns to the mexicans in kind for those drugs. See? 😉

    June 7, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mary

    Great shot of the wall, Btw.

    June 7, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. OH

    THe Manchurian region gets its name from the Manchu people, while the Manchus are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria. How is it wrong to claim something built by someone belonged to China? Han does not equal to China, btw. I think we got some big misunderstanding in this.

    June 7, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. ♚Mmmmm♛ this is sooo funny....korean kicks butt and built a wall to which loser cheyenah takes is here to say...the modern day wall is that twilight zone known as the 38th parallel...

    June 7, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. francois2012


    June 7, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
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