It turns out that one of the great wonders of the world is even more magnificent than originally thought.
The Great Wall of China, the only man-made structure visible from space, is actually 13,170 miles long, according to an announcement made by China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage on Tuesday.
The confirmed length is more than twice what was estimated by a 2009 study that found the wall to be 5,499 miles long based on historical records, BBC News reports.
Beginning in 2007 teams of Chinese archaeologists surveyed every inch of the existing wall, in addition to wall remnants stretching between 15 Chinese provinces, The Telegraph reports.
The structure began as a series of walls in 500 BC, which were connected during the Qin dynasty in 221-206 BC with the intention of protecting China’s northern border.
“So far, only 8.2 percent of the wall built during the Ming Dynasty remains intact, 74.1 percent is in poor condition, and in some sections, only its foundation remains, according to the [survey] report,” Xinhua reports.
Many parts of the wall have collapsed. The survey report stressed the importance of “saving and preserving” what remains of the wall.
“To prevent the architectural wonder from further damage, the central government rolled out a set of rules on the protection of the Great Wall in 2006, establishing funding for protection, restoration and maintenance for the Great Wall, and banning commercial activities on the wall,” according to Xinhua.
Cultural heritage officials said the rules were not consistently enforced in rural areas.
“A total of 43,721 heritage sites were identified nationwide during the survey, said Tong Mingkang, an official at the State Administration of Culture and Heritage,” The Telegraph reported.
According to Tong, SACH will create a general guideline for the preservation of the Great Wall by 2015, including a “monitoring and warning system” to guard against threats to the Great Wall.