Beijing is divided into 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties. Beijing is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and motorways passing through the city. It is also the destination of many international flights arriving in China. Beijing is recognized as the political, educational, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China, while Hong Kong and Shanghai predominate in economic fields. The city hosted the 2008 Olympic Games.
Few cities in the world besides Beijing have served as the political and cultural centre of an area as immense as China for so long. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes it as "one of the world's great cities," and declares that the city has been an integral part of China’s history for centuries; there is scarcely a major building of any age in Beijing that does not have at least some national historical significance. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have long made the city a centre of culture and art in China.
Why was the capital of China once called Peking but is now called Beijing?
Prior to 1958, the Chinese government used the Wade-Giles system to transliterate Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet. After 1958 the government switched, and the rest of the world followed, to the pinyin system of transliteration so now we call the capital city Beijing (pinyin) instead of Peking (Wade-Giles).