Beijing can probably be said to be one of the oldest still existing places of organised human habitation in the world with fossils dating 230,000 to 250,000 years back. The first walled settlement in its place was the city state Ji that existed from the 11th to 7th century BC.
In the early days of the Chinese Empire the region around Beijing was of regional importance and became a military centre. However, it was not until the Ming Dynasty (in the 14th century) that Beijing received capital status due to political difficulties in the southern capital of Nanjing. The Forbidden City and many other present day sights were built in the early 15th century and the general layout of the city has not been significantly changed ever since. Modern Chinese history is inevitably tied to its capital city, be it the Republican era, the Cultural Revolution of the 60s and 70s, the Tiananmen Square Massacre or the 2008 Olympics.