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October 22, 2011
The Great Wall of China is Collapsing
Portions of the Great Wall of China are starting to collapse due to mining in areas along the wall. This is putting one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World in danger of disappearing.
The problem with the mines isn't that they destroy the wall directly, but that they make tunnels under and around the wall which cause the land around it to become unstable. When this happens, the ground can shift causing the structure of the wall to fail and collapse. Although these mines are clearly causing problems for the Great Wall, they are not illegal and have government permits allowing them to mine close the Great Wall.
It has been recently discovered that around 700 meters of what was some of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall in Hebei Province have collapsed. If the mining is allowed to continue unchecked much more of this prime section could fall. Hopefully officials can come to an agreement and some of the wall can be saved.
The Great Wall of China is one of the most known symbols from the civilization of Ancient China. It is over 5,000 miles long and averages 33 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It was built over the course of 1000 years in order to keep Mongol invaders out of China. During the Ming Dynasty up to one million soldiers guarded the Wall from thousands of towers and guard houses. Much of the Great Wall that we see in pictures and that is standing today was built during the Ming Dynasty in the 1400's. Some portions of the wall are much older and were first built as early as 221 BC.
Today the Great Wall is considered an important historical landmark and is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some effort has gone on to protect the wall, but its vast length makes maintenance difficult and regulations tough to monitor. Areas near the Chinese capital of Beijing are better maintained due to its attraction for tourism, however, much of the wall has fallen into decay.