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Qin dynasty

A map of the Qin empire in 210 BCA map of the Qin empire in 210 BC There was a long period of unrest in China between 475 and 221 BC, called the Warring States period. The Zhou were still in power but the separate states in China gradually became independent and began to fight each other. China became united again under a powerful group of warriors from the state of Qin (pronounced “chin”). Under their leader, King Zheng, they subdued the power of the warring states and brought them under Qin rule. After a series of battles over a nine-year period, Zheng assumed the role of emperor in 221 BC. Now called Qin Shi Huangdi, he was first emperor of all China.

Shi HuangdiShi Huangdi

Qin Shi Huangdi

Zheng, the leader of the Qin called himself Qin Shi Huangdi, which means “first emperor of the Qin”. Shi Huangdi ruled over a vast empire from his capital city, Xianyang.

Shi Huangdi was a very powerful man: under his command were a million armoured soldiers, a thousand chariots and 10,000 horses. He ended years of war in China and kept order by executing anyone who opposed him. His laws were very strict. He made everyone pay tax and use the same sort of money, weights and way of writing. Shi Huangdi also built new roads across the country.

In 214 BC Shi Huangdi ordered the construction of the world’s first canal to connect two river valleys. The Lingqu Canal was just 36 km (22 miles) long but it allowed ships to travel 2000 km (1200 miles) through China’s inland waterways.

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