Beijing: Around 30 per cent of China’s Ming-era Great Wall has disappeared over time as adverse natural conditions and reckless human activities – including stealing the bricks to build houses – erode the Unesco World Heritage site, state media reported.
The Great Wall is not a single unbroken structure but stretches for thousands of kilometres in sections, from Shanhaiguan on the east coast to Jiayuguan in the windswept sands on the edge of the Gobi desert.
In places it is so dilapidated that estimates of its total length vary from 9,000 to 21,000 kilometres (5,600 to 13,000 miles), depending on whether missing sections are included. Despite its length it is not, as is sometimes claimed, visible from space.
Construction first begun in the third century BC, but nearly 6,300 kilometres were built in the Ming Dynasty of 1368-1644, including the much-visited sectors north of the capital Beijing.
Of that, 1,962 kilometres has melted away over the centuries, the Beijing Times reported.
Some of the construction weathered away, while plants growing in the walls have accelerated the decay, said the report Sunday, citing a survey last year by the Great Wall of China Society.