kids encyclopedia robot

Great Wall of China facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Great Wall of China
萬里長城 / 万里长城
The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling-edit.jpg
The Ming Dynasty Great Wall at Jinshanling
General information
Type Fortification
Country China
Coordinates 40°41′N 117°14′E / 40.68°N 117.23°E / 40.68; 117.23
Technical details
Size 13,171 mi (21,197 km)
Official name: The Great Wall
Type: Cultural
Criteria: i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Designated: 1987 (11th session)
Reference #: 438
State Party: China
Region: Asia-Pacific
Ruins of the guard tower
Ruins of a watchtower on the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is an ancient wall in China. The wall is made of cement, rocks, bricks, and powdered dirt. It was finished in 1878, and it was built to protect the northern part of the empire of China from enemy attacks. It is the longest structure humans have ever built. It is about 13,171 mi (21,197 km) long, 30 ft (0.0091 km) wide and 50 ft (15 m) high. The earlier sections of the wall are made of compacted (squished closely and tightly together) dirt and stone. Later in the Ming Dynasty, they used bricks. There are 7,000 watchtowers, blockhouses for soldiers, and beacons to send smoke signals.

Nineteen walls have been built that were called the Great Wall of China. The first was built in the 7th century BC. The most famous wall was built between 226–200 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (Qin is pronounced as Chin.), during the Qin Dynasty. Not much of this wall remains because people have been stealing from it. It was much farther north than the current wall. The current wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.


The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, also called Shihuangdi, started the Qin Dynasty. The Xiongnu tribes in the north of China were his enemies. The land in some parts of China was easy to cross, so Qin Shi Huang started building the Great Wall to make it more difficult for the Xiongnu to invade China.

Other dynasties in China worked more on the wall and made it longer. The Han, Sui, Northern, and Jin Dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded the Great Wall. During the Ming Dynasty, major rebuilding work took place. Sections of the wall were built with bricks and stone instead of earth. It took more than 2,000 years to complete the Great Wall.

Construction and rebuilding of the Great Wall

Builders used materials that were nearby. Some parts of the wall were made of mud, straw, and twigs. Thousands of workers died from giant falling stones, exhaustion, disease, animal attacks, and starvation. Workers dying and being buried in and under the Great Wall is a myth.

Visibility from space

Rumors about astronauts being able to see the Great Wall from the Moon are not scientifically proven. The Great Wall has shown up in radar images taken from space, but scientists are not sure that astronauts can see the wall with the naked eye. One astronaut who talked about being able to see the Great Wall from space was Neil Armstrong. He said that on the Moon, it was very clear that the wall was not visible. However, astronaut William R. Pogue said he was able to see the wall from a 185 to 330-mile height, but only with binoculars and with lots of practice.

Interesting facts about the Great Wall of China

  • The Great Wall covers 15 regions in northern China.
  • It attracts 50 million visitors per year.
  • The most visited section of the wall is known as Badaling and is near Beijing.
  • The altitudes of sections of the Great Wall vary from just above sea level to 4,722 feet.
  • Sticky rice was used as mortar in the Great Wall.
  • The builders of the Great Wall included soldiers, forcibly-recruited peasants, convicts, and prisoners of war.
  • Arsenic was used to prevent insects from eating parts of the wall.
  • Part of the Great Wall protected the route of the ancient Silk Road.
  • One of the many legends surrounding the wall tells of a helpful dragon who drew out the tracks for the wall, which the workers then followed.
  • Each May, the Great Wall Marathon is run on the Great Wall.
  • The Great Wall is wide enough in some places to drive a car over it.

Images for kids

kids search engine
Great Wall of China Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.