The Great Wall of China is the longest creation of human beings on the Earth. The Wall is frequently billed as the only man-made object visible from space. However, it isn’t, at least to the unaided eye in low Earth orbit. It’s only a myth.

Currently, the Wall faces a great crisis, as it’s disappearing slowly. Reports suggest that 30% of this creation has already disappeared, and both human beings and nature are responsible for the extinction of this UNESCO Heritage Site.

Although the construction of the Wall began in the Third Century BC, nearly 6,300km were built in 1368-1644 when China was under the rule of the Ming dynasty. The 8,850km-long Wall, stretching from Shanhaiguan (Hebei Province) in the east to Gobi Desert in the west, is made of stones, bricks, tamped earth, woods and other materials. This is made up of 6,259km sections of actual Wall, 359km of trenches and 2,232km of natural defensive barriers, like hills and rivers. A recent archaeological survey has found that a section (1,962km) of the Wall has disappeared.

Once, the Wall was built to protect China from raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Now, residents of local villages steal the bricks to build house. Tourism, too, damages the Wall, as foreign tourists – who want to collect bricks as mementos – usually pay GBP 3 to poor villagers in Lulong County for a single brick.

The Chinese state media have reported that around 30% of the Ming-era Wall has disappeared mainly because of natural erosion and theft of bricks. As a result, the foundation of this great architecture has become very weak. “Even though some of the Walls are built of bricks and stones, they cannot withstand the perennial exposure to wind and rain. Many towers are becoming increasingly shaky and may collapse in a single rainstorm in summer,” said Vice President of the Great Wall of China Society Dong Yaohui. According to Dong, while some of the construction weathered away, plants growing in the Walls have accelerated the decay.

With explorations of undeveloped parts of the Wall becoming a popular leisure activity in recent years, the beautiful piece of architectural genius is in real danger. The Great Wall is the main attraction of Chinese tourism. Unfortunately, the tourism industry is posing a serious threat to the Wall. The Wall, which has protected China from enemies for many years, needs protection from the Chinese authorities. Or else, it will completely disappear soon, very soon.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]