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In parts, the height of the wall has been reduced from more than 16ft to less than six feet.

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Sections of the Wall north of Beijing and near tourist centres have been preserved and even extensively renovated. A large amount of the wall has collapsed. During the Ming dynasty the Great Wall is believed to have stretched about 4, miles.

But the relics here are not included in the protection zone.

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The entire length includes trenches and natural barriers such as hills and rivers. In addition to acting as a shield against border enemies the Great Wall was also used to enforce duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, to regulate or encourage trade and control immigration and emigration.

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In poorer parts of the country the Wall is sometimes used as a village playground or is used as a source of stones for rebuilding houses and roads. The was built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire against attack by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces.

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The previous estimate in only included structures built during the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from toand didn't count some of the ruins. Our hands are tied.

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Troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through smoke or fire also helped to enhance the walls defensive characteristics. It is also being threatened by the construction of roads. More than 37 miles in the Gansu province may disappear in the next two decades.

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It grew to link up 15 provinces and was reinforced and extended many times during later dynasties. That's considerably longer than the previous mark of 8, km 5, mileswhich was based largely on historical records.

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Sections have also been affected by graffiti and vandalism. It is made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials. The Great Wall was built by a number of imperial dynasties as a defence barrier.

The wall goes from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, an area that loosely represents the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.