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Xi'an (Chinese: 西安; pinyin: Xī'ān; historically known as Cháng'ān), is the capital of the Shaanxi province in the People's Republic of China and a sub-provincial city. As one of the oldest cities in Chinese history, Xi'an is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China because it has been the capital (under various names) of some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including the Zhou, Qin, Han, the Sui, and Tang dynasties. Xi'an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home of the Terracotta Army which was made during the Qin Dynasty. The city has more than 3,100 years of history, and was known as Chang'an (simplified Chinese: 长安; traditional Chinese: 長安; pinyin: Cháng'ān; ) before the Ming Dynasty. Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of interior China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi'an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational center of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China's space exploration program.
Origin of name
The two Chinese characters in the name "Xi'an" literally mean Western Peace. The local Xi'anese pronunciation of Xi'an is almost the same as the Standard Mandarin pronunciation in Hanyu Pinyin. This name derives from the Ming Dynasty, when the city's name changed from its former title of "Chang'an". In fact, the naming conventions used for the city have often changed throughout time. The city was named "Fenghao" (丰鎬) in the Zhou Dynasty beginning around 1046 BCE. It was renamed Chang'an (長安) during the Han Dynasty in 206 BCE. It was then renamed as Daxing (大興) during the Sui Dynasty in 581 CE, then renamed Chang'an during the Tang Dynasty beginning in 618 CE. It was given other names in later periods, such as Fengyuan (奉元), then Anxi (安西), then Jingzhao (京兆) during the Yuan Dynasty. Finally, it was named Xi'an in the year 1369 CE during the Ming Dynasty. It retained the name of Xi'an until 1928, until it was named Xijing (西京) in 1930. It was once again changed back to its Ming-era name of Xi'an in the year 1943. Xi'an's abbreviations in Chinese are Hao (鎬) or Tang (唐). The former abbreviation is derived from the ancient name Fenghao of the Zhou Dynasty. The latter one is derived from the name of Tang Dynasty.
Geography and Climate
Xi'an lies on the Guanzhong Plain in central China, on a flood plain created by the eight surrounding rivers and streams, most of which are too polluted to be used as sources of fresh water. The city has an average elevation of 400 meters above sea level and an annual precipitation of 1100 millimeters. The city borders the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains to the south, and the banks of the Wei River to the north. Hua Shan, one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, is located 100 km away to the east of the city. At the beginning of Han Dynasty, Prime Minister Zhang Liang advised the emperor Liu Bang to choose Guanzhong as the capital of the Han Dynasty: 'Guanzhong Plain, which is located behind Xiao Pass and Hangu Pass, connects Long Plain and Shu Plain. Land of thousands miles and rich in harvest can be found here, as if this place is belongs to the nation of the heaven.' ("关中左崤函, 右陇蜀, 沃野千里, 此所谓金城千里, 天府之国也" 《史记·留侯世家》) Since then, Guanzhong is also known as 'Nation of the Heaven'.
Twin towns — Sister cities Xi'an's sister cities are: Nara, Japan. (1974) Kyoto, Japan. (1974) Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (1985) Pau, France. (1986) Kansas City, United States. (1989) Esfahan, Iran. (1989) Dortmund, Germany. (1991) Lahore, Pakistan. (1992) Funabashi, Japan. (1994) Gyeongju, South Korea. (1994) Iaşi, Romania. (1994)