A couple of weeks ago, Xinhua News Agency announced that the population of Beijing was more than 21 million:
Beijing’s population reached 21.15 million at the end of last year, 2.2 percent up on 2012, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics announced Thursday.
Permanent residents in the Chinese capital increased by 455,000 since the end of 2012.
Xia Qinfang, deputy head of the bureau, declared that Beijing’s population includes 8.03 million migrants who have been in the city for over half a year.
Beijing’s population has been growing more slowly since 2011, Xia said.
In case you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around what that means, perhaps this video clip of a subway station at rush hour will help:
Beijing hasn’t always been this crowded, though. Consider this chart showing the population growth since 1953:
(image source: New Geography)
So, when I moved to Beijing in 1998, the population was just over 12 million, and when I left it was 20 million. That explains so much!
And if you’re want to read up on my adopted hometown, here are four of my favorite books on the history and growth of Beijing:
Beijing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic City, by Lillian M. Li, Alison Dray-Novey, and Haili Kong
City of Heavenly Tranquility: Beijing in the History of China, by Jasper Becker