Beijing is situated at the northern tip of the roughly triangular North China Plain, which opens to the south and east of the city. Mountains to the north, northwest and west shield the city and northern China's agricultural heartland from the encroaching desert steppes. The northwestern part of the municipality, especially Yanqing County and Huairou District, are dominated by the Jundu Mountains, while the western part is framed by the Western Hills, or Xishan. The Great Wall of China, which stretches across the northern part of Beijing Municipality, made use of this rugged topography to defend against nomadic incursions from the steppes. Mount Dongling, in the Western Hills and on the border with Hebei, is the municipality's highest point, with an altitude of 2,303 metres (7,556 ft).
Major rivers flowing through the municipality include the Yongding River and the Chaobai River, part of the Hai River system, and flow in a southerly direction. Beijing is also the northern terminus of the Grand Canal of China, which was built across the North China Plain to Hangzhou. Miyun Reservoir, built on the upper reaches of the Chaobai River, is Beijing's largest reservoir, and crucial to its water supply.
The urban area of Beijing is in the south-central part of the municipality and occupies a small but expanding portion of the municipality's area. It spreads out in bands of concentric ring roads, of which the fifth and outermost, the Sixth Ring Road (the numbering starts at two), passes through several satellite towns. Tian'anmen and Tian'anmen Square are at the center of Beijing, directly to the south of the Forbidden City, the former residence of the emperors of China. To the west of Tian'anmen is Zhongnanhai, home to the paramount leaders of the PRC. Running through central Beijing from east to west is Chang'an Avenue, one of the city's main thoroughfares.
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