New regulations, posted on the central government's website on Wednesday, ban seven activities along the structure including digging out soil or bricks, planting trees and carving names.

State press reports said that the rules would restrict the growing numbers of parties and "all night musical raves" on parts of the wall not opened to tourists.

The China Daily reported that last year, some revellers were "involved in such indecent and illegal activities as urinating and drug abuse on the wall".

More adventurous visitors also climb wilder, crumblier sections that are not officially open to the public.

Big fines

Fines as high as $63,000 will be imposed on those who damage the wall under the  central government's first set of uniform laws to preserve the ancient structure.

The Great Wall, which is more than 6,400km long, receives an estimated 10 million visitors a year, mostly to the 10km opened to tourists at Badaling, the nearest stretch to Beijing.

The new rules, issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, also prohibit the driving of vehicles on the wall or group activities such as parties.

"Inappropriate tourist exploration has caused damage to the Great Wall and its historical features," the government's website quoted a State Council official as saying.

Graffiti

The regulations, which come into effect from December 1, also urge local governments to limit the numbers of visitors to the Great Wall which the UN listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

At the Badaling section of the wall many of the bricks have either been carved with someone's name or covered with graffiti.

In other, less well-known parts of the wall, local farmers have  often nailed iron ladders into the ancient structure, permitting  tourists to access sections of "wild" wall for a fee.

Less than 2,500km remain of the original structure first built in the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206  BC).

It was rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD) to keep out northern tribes threatening the Chinese heartland.