JINAN, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's first Esperanto museum has officially opened after more than two years of construction to promote the "universal language".
济南11月18日 - 经过两年多的建设,中国的第一家世界语博物馆已经正式揭牌成立,以促进“通用语言”的发展。

The Esperanto Museum, in Zaozhuang University in east China's Shandong Province, opened Saturday after hosting more than 7,000 visitors during a trial operation since May.

With a display area covering 680 square meters, the museum is the largest of its kind in Asia, said Sun Mingxiao, who is in charge of the facility.

It boasts more than 26,000 items, including books, newspapers, photographs and manuscripts. The majority of them were donated by Esperantonists from more than 40 countries or regions.

Chen Haosu, head of the All-China Esperanto League, said the mission of the museum is to record the history of Esperanto, promote the culture of the artificial language and its development.

The museum was jointly built by Zaozhuang University and the All-China Esperanto League at a cost of 3 million yuan (490,000 U.S. dollars).

Esperanto-related activities began in the university in the 1980s. Esperanto became an optional course in the college in 2011, attracting more than 500 students so far.

Up till now, about 400,000 Chinese have learned Esperanto, according to Sun.

Esperanto was created by Polish doctor L. L. Zamenhof in 1887 and introduced to China in the early 1990s.