|Formerly known as Peking, formerly 1928-1949 Peiping.|
Today, Beijing is the political and cultural center of the People's Republic of China as well as a center of international activity and an important socialist base. Great changes have taken place since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The city walls were demolished to facilitate transportation and allow for general expansion. By 2001, the population exceeded 12.5 million, and the total municipal area was increased to over 17,800 square kilometers.