An ancient civilized nation and a great country on the East Asian continent, China possesses a vast territory covering 9.6 million sq. km. and a population accounting for over one-fifth of the world's total, 56nationalities and a recorded history of 3,OOO years, during which it has created a unique, outstanding traditional Chinese Culture. China's architectural art is a particularly beautiful branch in the tree of Chinese civilization.
Generally speaking, there were about seven main independent architectural systems in the ancient world, some of which had long been interrupted, or had not been widely circulated. Therefore their achievements and influence were relatively limited, such as ancient Egyptian, West Asian, Indian and American structures. Only Chinese, European and Islamic structures are considered to be the world's three major architectural systems. The Chinese and European structures continued over the longest period of time and spread over the widest area and therefore they gained more brilliant achievements.
China's earliest prehistoric structures were born at the juncture of the Old and New Stone Age about 1O,OOO years ago, when primitive agriculture began to emerge and people's desire to settle in one place began to become stronger. Structures, which showed the earliest initial demand for beauty, i.e., the artistic demand in its broad sense, appeared in the middle and later parts of the New Stone Age around 4,OOO years BC. In terms of a structural system, traditional Chinese structures ended in the early 2Oth century.