The first unification of China occurred in 221 BC under the leadership of the Qin Dynasty. This unification was achieved through a series of military campaigns which ultimately resulted in a centralized government and the creation of the Qin Empire.
The Qin Dynasty was founded by a man named Ying Zheng who was born in 259 BC, also known as Qin Shi Huang. After ascending to the throne at the age of 13 and expelling the ruling Zhou Dynasty from power, Ying Zheng implemented a vast reform program and unified China for the first time in history.
This unified empire was centered around the capital city of Xianyang. From here, Qin Shi Huang was able to extend his rule to all parts of China and establish a strong, centralized government. He did this by instituting a number of bureaucratic reforms that included standardizing weights, measures, currency, language and legal codes.
In order to maintain control over the newly unified Chinese empire, Qin Shi Huang organized it into 36 separate commanderies. These commanderies were run by military governors who reported directly to the Qin Emperor. In addition, he created a network of roads and canals that served to facilitate communications and transportation. These infrastructure improvements increased trade and helped to develop the economy.
Qin Shi Huang also built the world-famous Great Wall of China in order to protect his kingdom from invaders. Construction on the wall began in 214 BC and it spanned more than 4,000 miles across northern China when it was completed.
After Qin Shi Huang’s death in 210 BC, the Qin Empire fell apart and was replaced by the Han Dynasty. Although it lasted for only 15 years, the Qin Dynasty set the foundation for the next 2000 years of Chinese history by unifying the country for the first time.