In order to be ready for the "China Olympics" total solar eclipse on Friday August 1st, 2008, a scouting trip in China and Mongolia was mandatory during the summer 2006. A recce in the Altai Republic, a Russian Federation autonomous region well known for its Altai Mountains and belonging to UNESCO World Heritage, has already taken place in August 2004. This new scouting trip in the Chinese Gobi along the "Silk Road" in the Xinjiang Uighur province and Western Mongolia had for main goal to get the best weather on all the eclipse path. The Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area was established in 1976 and was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1990 as one of the largest biosphere reserves in the world (5.3 million hectares).
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace during the mid-Ming and Qing Dynasties and was built between 1407 and 1420 by Yongle, third Ming emperor. Nowadays it has become a museum displaying imperial treasures.
The Great Wall of China was originally a project of Qin dynasty designed to keep out the nomadic Xiongnu invaders from the north. Some of the wall was built during the Qin, but most of it that we see today was constructed during the Ming dynasty. It is the world’s longest man-made structure, stretching over a formidable 6,352 kilometers (3,947 miles), from Shanhai Pass on the Bohai Sea in the east, at the limit between "China proper" and Manchuria (Northeast China), to Lop Nur in the southeastern portion of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
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