China's Great Wall is crumbling

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China's Great Wall Is Crumbling


Construction on China's Great Wall began in the 3rd century BC and was expanded significantly by the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644.

In the years since, however, its size has been slowly deteriorating.

According to a report by the Beijing Times, a survey performed by the Great Wall of China Society revealed the sprawling site is now about a third smaller than it once was.

Depending upon whether it's measured in terms of individual pieces or total span, the structure now stretches around 6,000 to 13,000 miles.

Of that, more than 700 miles of the wall are in extremely poor shape.

Primary causes for the decline were identified as the effects of nature and theft.

Over the past several hundred years, wind and rain have taken a toll. Plants growing on the wall have also accelerated its decay.

Some of the towers are so dilapidated it's believed they could be wiped out by a single storm.

Not helping matters is that stealing bricks has become common in some areas.

They're often used to build houses, and some are sold as souvenirs.

Though protection regulations have been put in place, the resources to enforce them are often not available.

See photos of the Great Wall throughout the years:
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China's Great Wall is crumbling
This is a 1933 photo of the Great Wall of China. (AP Photo)
The Great Wall of China, 3,000 miles long, at Nankow, near Peking on Jan. 23, 1934. (AP Photo)
View of visitors to Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, near Beijing in 1972. (AP Photo)
The Great Wall of China is seen in Sept. 1986. (AP Photo)
The Great Wall of China is seen in Sept. 1986. (AP Photo)
The Great Wall of China is deserted in Mutianyu, China on June 19, 1989. Tourism has been at a low at the Great Wall since the crackdown on student demonstrators in the capital. (AP Photo/Udo Weitz)
A 1984 view of the 2,000-year-old Great wall of China, followed a ridge of the Yan mountains at Badaling, northwest of Beijing. Elsewhere the wall often traces its path across plains. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevitch)
Brightly-colored flags mark unstable sections of the Simatai portion of China's Great Wall, built in the fifth century B.C., stretching out to the West of China from Beijing, Tuesday, May 28, 1996. Over time, wind and sand have eroded many portions of the Wall. In more recent times, huge numbers of tourists have also contributed to erosion problems. Strategic platforms were built every 300 to 500 metres along to wall serving as observation and sentry posts, weapons storage holds and attack positions. (AP Photo/Lois raimondo)
Competitors in the second annual Great Wall race struggle against strong winds and minus 25 degrees celius temperatures atop China's Great Wall at the Badaling section, 70 kilometers northwest of Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1997. More than 30 people participated in this 2,000 meter race while others ran shorter distances. More than 2,000 contestants signed up for the races but bad weather kept most from participating. The youngest contestant was 5, the oldest 82. (AP Photo/Lois Raimondo)
A view from a section of China's Great Wall shows the restored tower of Zhenbeitai, in the northern town of Yulin, Shaanxi province, July 15, 2001. The former garrison town near the border of Inner Mongolia boasts the Great Wall's biggest beacon tower, a four-tier, 90-foot-tall brown stone structure built in 1607, much more resembles China's countryside than the more touristy section of the wall in Badaling, near Beijing. (AP Photo/William Foreman)
A lone tourist walks along the Great Wall of China, at Mutianyu, north of Beijing, after the first snowfall of the winter Thursday November 16, 2000. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
President Clinton shows off the granduer of China's Great Wall during a tour near Mutianyu outside of Beijing Sunday June 28, 1998. President Clinton, venturing from a church once shuttered by communists to the Forbidden City and Great Wall monuments of imperial rule, said Sunday he felt confident China was on a path of progress. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
Chinese tourists climb the Badaling Great Wall near Beijing Thursday, May 6, 2004. As the May Day golden week vacation comes to an end, millions of Chinese are expected to travel home over the weekend in time for work to begin next week. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Chinese tourists visit the Badaling Great Wall near Beijing Thursday, May 6, 2004. As the May Day golden week vacation comes to an end, millions of Chinese are expected to travel home over the weekend in time for work to begin next week. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A hiker climbs up a dilapidated section of the Great Wall of China, north of Beijing, Saturday, July 12, 2003. Beijing has passed new regulations restricting hiking and climbing along unrestored sections of the wall, and banning new buildings within 500 meters of it. The law also bans carving, painting, or plundering of stones or bricks from the wall and prohibits developers from setting up shops and stalls on it. The new regulations, which go into effect on August 1, are aimed at protecting the 624 kilometers of the Great Wall in the Beijing area from commercial encroachment. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
Workers rebuild a dilapidated section of the Great Wall of China, at Huanghuacheng, north of Beijing Sunday June 20, 2004. Authorities have recently begun taking steps to preserve the ancient wall, banning hiking on unrestored sections, and rebuilding parts which have been crumbling for years. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
* FILE ** Chinese tourists walk on a rebuilt section of the Great Wall of China, near its western-most point, at Jiayuguan, in China's northwest Gansu province in this Oct. 11, 2005 file photo. The section, known as the Shiguan Gorge Overhanging Great Wall, is believed to have been built in the 16th century and had crumbled to almost nothing before being rebuilt in 1987. The Great Wall is one of 21 candidates for the new seven wonders of the world. The seven winners will be announced July 7, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
Marathon runners inspect the route for the eighth Great Wall Marathon set to take place next Saturday, in Kuaihuolin, China, Thursday, May 17, 2007. Few other marathons compare to the grueling 3,800 steps up and down China's most famous symbol. In every marathon, runners talk about "hitting the wall" around the 34-35-kilometer mark. Here, it really happens. The first stretch of climbing the Wall comes just after the start, and the second stretch comes just where it should near the end. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
** TO GO WITH STORY SLUGGED BEIJING CAMPAÑA ** Visitors walk the Great Wall of China, Thursday, March 13, 2008, in Badaling, near Beijing. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Chinese tourists take photos on a rebuilt part of the Great Wall in Luanping, in northern China's Hebei province, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
U.S. President Barack Obama during a tour of the Great Wall in Badaling, China, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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