Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival in central and northwestern China, 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.
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". The city was named "Fenghao" (丰鎬) in the Zhou Dynasty (周) beginning around 1046 BC. It was renamed Chang'an (長安) during the Han Dynasty (汉) in 206 AD. It was then renamed as Daxing (大興) during the Sui Dynasty (隋) in 581 AD, then renamed Chang'an during the Tang Dynasty beginning in 618 AD. It was given other names in later periods, such as Fengyuan (奉元), then Anxi (安西), then Jingzhao (京兆) during the Yuan (元) Dynasty. Finally, it was named Xi'an in the year 1369 AD 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 has a rich and culturally significant history. The Lantian Man was discovered in 1963 in Lantian County (蓝田县; pinyin: Lántián Xiàn), 50 km southeast of Xi'an, and dates back at least 500,000 years before present. A 6,500 year old Banpo (半坡) Neolithic village in was discovered in 1954 on the outskirts of the city proper.
Xi'an become a cultural and industrial center of China in 11th century BCE with the founding of the Zhou Dynasty. The capital of Zhou was established in Fēng (沣/灃) and Hào (镐/鎬), both located just west of contemporary Xi'an. Following the Warring States Period, China was unified under the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) for the first time, with the capital located at Xianyang (咸阳), just northwest from modern Xi'an. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of the Terracotta Army and his mausoleum just east of Xi'an shortly before his death.
In 202 BCE, the founding emperor Liu Bang of the Han Dynasty established his capital in Chang'an County; his first palace Changle Palace (长乐宫/長樂宮, perpetual happiness) was built across the river from the ruin of the Qin capital. This is traditionally regarded as the founding date of Chang'an, or Xi'an. Two years later, Liu Bang built Weiyang Palace (未央宫) north of modern Xi'an. The original Xi'an city wall was started in 194 BCE and took 4 years to finish. Upon completion, the wall measured 25.7 km in length and 12-16 m in thickness at the base, enclosing an area of 36 km². In year 190, amidst uprisings and rebellions just prior to the Three Kingdoms Period, a powerful warlord named Dong Zhuo moved the court from Luoyang to Chang'an in a bid to avoid a coalition of other powerful warlords against him.
Following several hundred years of unrest, Sui Dynasty united China again in 582. The emperor of Sui ordered a new capital to be built southeast of the Han capital, called DaXing (大兴/大興, great excitement). It consisted of three sections: the Xi'an Palace, the Imperial City, and the civilian section, with a total area of 84 km² within the city walls. At the time, it was the largest city in the world. The city was renamed Chang'an in the Tang Dynasty. In the mid-7th century, after returning from his pilgrimage to India, Buddhist monk Xuan Zang (popularly known as Tang Sanzang) established a translation center for Sanskrit scriptures.
Construction of the Da Yan Pagoda (大雁塔, Great Wild Goose Pagoda) began in 652. This pagoda was 64 m in height, and was built to store the translations of Buddhist sutras obtained from India by the Xuan Zang. In 707, construction of the Xiao Yan Pagoda (小雁塔, Little Wild Goose Pagoda) began, and measured 45 m tall at the time of completion. An earthquake in 1556 damaged the tower and reduced its height to 43.4 m.
Chang'an was devastated at the end of the Tang Dynasty in 904. Residents were forced to move to the new capital city in Luoyang. Only a small area in the city continued to be occupied thereafter. During the Ming Dynasty, a new wall was constructed in 1370 and remains intact to this day. The wall measures 11.9 km in circumference, 12 m in height, and 15-18 m in thickness at the base; a moat was also built outside the walls. The new wall and moat would protect a much smaller city of 12 km².
In 1936, the Xi'an Incident took place inside the city walls during the Chinese Civil War. The incident brought the Communist Party of China and Kuomintang to a truce to in order to concentrate on fighting against the Japanese Invasion.
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 Han: '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'.
The Shaanxi Astronomical Observatory was established in 1966. In 1975, according to the Geodetic Origin Report of the People's Republic of China, 'in order to avoid bias in the mensuration as much as possible, the Geodetic Origin would be in central mainland China.' Jingyang (泾阳), a town near Xi'an was chosen. Since 1986, Chinese Standard Time (CST) was set from NTSC. The NTSC at Jingyang is 36km away from Xi'an. Distances to the national borders are 880km to the North, 2500km to the Northeast, 1000km to the East, 1750km to the South, 2250km to the Southwest, 2930km to the West, and 2500km to the Northwest.
National Time Service Center (NTSC), the Chinese Academy of Sciences is an institute which is mainly engaged in the service and research on time and frequency. NTSC takes charge of generating and maintaining the national standard time scale, disseminating the time and frequency signals. The autonomous standard time scales of universal time and atomic time and the dissemination techniques with LF radio and HF radio were established successively during the 1970s and 1980s, which meet all the requirements for different applications on the whole, such as the scientific researches, national economy, etc.
The majority of Xi'an residents are Han Chinese, who make up 99.1% of the city's total population. There are around 81,500 ethnic minorities living in Xi'an, including 50,000 Muslim Hui people concentrated in the famous Muslim quarter, which is also home to the beautiful 1,360 year old Great Mosque of Xi'an.
During World War II, Xi'an became a destination for many refugees from other provinces of China, especially neighboring Henan Province. Because Xi'an was far inland, the invading Japanese army only managed a few aerial assaults on the city. As a result, Xi'an suffered minimal destruction. After 1949, the national government tried to balance the development in different regions of China, and relocated a number of factories and universities from other cities to Xi'an. Modern Xi'an Jiaotong University was relocated from its original campus in Shanghai.
The urban and suburban areas of the city are divided into seven (7) districts:
|District||Population (2000 census)||Area (km²)|
|Beilin District (碑林区: Bēi Lín Qū)||700,000||22.0|
|Yanta District (雁塔区: Yàn Tǎ Qū)||690,000||152.0|
|Weiyang District (未央区: Wèi Yāng Qū)||410,000||26.1|
|Baqiao District (灞桥区: Bà Qiáo Qū)||450,000||32.2|
|Xincheng District (新城区: Xīn Chéng Qū)||490,000||31.0|
|Lianhu District (莲湖区: Lián Hú Qū)||600,000||38.00|
|Chang'an District (长安区 : Cháng ān Qū),Chang'an Xian until 12th,Sep,2002||930,000||1583|
|City proper + inner suburbs||4.27 million||1,884.3|
|District||Population (2000 census)||Area (km²)|
|Yanliang District (阎良区: Yán Liáng Qū)||240,000||240.0|
|Lintong District (临潼区: Lín Tóng Qū)||670,000||898.0|
|Outer suburbs||0.91 million||1,138.0|
The other four(4) districts and the two counties located further out govern semirural and rural areas:
|District||Population (2000 census)||Area (km²)|
|Lantian County (蓝田县: Lán Tián Xiàn)||640,000||1,977.0|
|Zhouzhi County (周至县: Zhōu Zhì Xiàn)||630,000||2,956.0|
|Hu County (户县:Hù Xiàn)||590,000||1,213.0|
|Gaoling County (高陵县: Gāo Líng Xiàn)||230,000||290|
|Peripheral areas||2.09 million||6,436.0|
Xi'an has many areas that are easily accessible on foot. In many commercial, residential, educations zones in the city, especially in the shopping and entertainment districts around the Bell Tower, underpasses and overpasses have been built for the safety and convenience of pedestrians. However many intersections still lack sufficiently visible traffic lights and the right-of-way is virtually non-existent except at large intersections with traffic police and signals.
There has been a significant increase in the number of privately-owned vehicles among middle and upper class households in Xi'an. Electric bikes are very popular among students and offer easy transportation in and around the city for many residents. Taxi services are numerous but many citizens of Xi'an still commute to work on one of more than 200 bus routes.
Currently there are major construction works along Chang An street for the first subway system in Xi'an, designed with 6 lines, to be completed by 2020.
Work started on the 2nd route in 2007, and is predicted to be finished in 2011. The 1st route will start in early 2009, while the rest is planned to start in 2013 and to be finished around 2020.
Most, if not all, taxis in Xi'an run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
Xi'an Railway Station covers 597 thousand square meters, has 5 passenger platforms, and 24 tracks. It provides 112 services to 80 thousand people daily. There are services from Xi'an to Zhengzhou, from Xi'an to Lanzhou, from Xi'an to Baoji,and from Xi'an to Mount Hua. CRH2(China Railway High-speed 2) is an express service running from Xi'an to Baoji, with a total running time of under 90 minutes.
Xi'an currently has two ring road systems, the Second Ring road and the Third Ring road encircle the city. These ring roads similar to freeways, except that there are traffic signals on the Second Ring road.
As a famous tourist city, Xi'an has built expressways to Lintong, Tongchuan and Baoji, with high class roads to famous scenic spots in suburban counties and to the north slope of the Qin Mountains. Since September 2007, the newly completed Xi-Han Expressway connects Han Zhong and Xi'an through the Qinling Mountains. The ZhongNan Shan Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Asia at 15 kilometers long.
Xi'an Xianyang International Airport is the major airport serving the city and is the largest airport in northwestern of China. The airport is located to the northwest of the city, between Xi'an and Xianyang. Chang'an Airlines and China Eastern Airlines are the main airlines using the airport.
Germany's Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt Airport, has paid 490 million yuan to obtain a 24.5-percent stake in the Xianyang International Airport, offering opportunities to upgrade and expand the facility.
The culture of Xi'an descends from one of the world's earliest civilizations. The Guanzhong Ren (关中人/關中人) culture is considered the cultural antecedent of Xi'anese; their features are satirized as the "Ten Strangenesses of Guanzhong Ren" (关中十大怪/關中十大怪). Xi'an is also known for the "Eight Great Sights of Chang'an" (长安八景/長安八景), a collection of scenic areas in the region.
The Republic of China style (民国风格) is perhaps best exemplified by the People's Showplace. The Sino-Soviet style (苏式风格), popular from the 1950s to 70s, is often used in the west of the city in factories built with the help of the U.S.S.R.. Modern architectural forms (现代风格) — can be found in the High-Tech Zone and the Economic-Development zone.
A new Chinese architectural form called New Tang Style (新唐风) can be mainly found in Qujiang (曲江), which inherits the soul of tradition and develops itself on the base of modern architecture; the Shaanxi History Museum and the Xi'an Museum are examples of this style.
Much like Beijing 798 and Shanghai 1933, Xi'an has an art district called Textile town (纺织城). The district is not an actual town but derives its name from the many textile factories built there since the 1950s. Today it is no longer a centre for the textile industry but a new art factory with 4 workshops in total. Since March 2007, more than 40 artists have taken a part in these workshops.
Xi'an is known for its rock music, and is one of the vigorous underground musical centres in China - the other three being Beijing, Kunming and Chengdu. It is home to contemporary Chinese Stars such as Xuwei (许巍), Zhangchu (张楚), Zhengjun (郑均).
Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) and Gu Changwei (顾长卫) are directors from Xi'an. Xi'an is also the only city in China to win the Golden Bear (Berlin Film Festival) twice. The first film is Red Sorghum and the second one is Tuya's Marriage. They are produced by Xi'an Filmmaking Factory (now called Xi'an Qujiang Filmmaking Group) and Xi'an Filmmaking company respectively.
Chinese economists from Northwestern University in Xi'an include Zhang Weiying (张维迎), Zhang Shuguang (张曙光), Weijie (魏杰), Liu Shijin (刘世锦), Songze (宋则), Fenglun (冯仑), Feng Zongsu (冯宗苏), Zou Dongtao (邹东涛), Li Yiping (李义平), Zhuo Zhonghai (左中海). Zhang Chaoyang (张朝阳), the CEO of SOHU company, is the leader in the field of Chinese Internet.
The growing economy of Xi'an supports the development of a software industry, and the city is a pioneer in software industry in China.
In 2005, the production value of software industry reached RMB 8.2 billion Yuan, with export revenue up to $US 42 million.
In recent years, service outsourcing industry in Xi'an has maintained robust growth. The outstanding contractor enterprises, rich human resources and preferential policies have paved a solid foundation for Xi'an to becoming a capital for service outsourcing.
Xi'an, as a second-tier city in China after the likes of Beijing and Shanghai, has a track record in the Business Process Outsourcing field. The local government is using tax and other incentives to encourage companies and professionals to relocate there.
A Silicon.com article describes Xi'an: "But Xi'an is selling on its own merits - with a large pool of cheap human resources from the 100 universities in the area, it hoovers up around 3,000 computer graduates every year, each earning approximately $120 a month - half the wages for the equivalent job in Beijing.
In November 2006, Xi'an and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation jointly set up Xi'an Aerospace Science and Technology Industrial Base. From its establishment, the base has focused on the development of the civil space industry, including equipment manufacturing, software and service outsourcing, new materials and solar photovoltaics.
Apart from the core area, the base will cover Xi'an and the Guanzhong area (the central China) and the expansion zone will reach Northwest China and Southwest China. It is expected that by 2012 the total industry output can reach 2.8 billion us dollars with about 10 to 20 brand products with intellectual property rights and 5-8 products with global competitiveness.
|Circuit||World Formula 1||China||Xi'an||05 October 2007|
|Circuit||World Formula 1||China||Shenzhen||21 October 2007|
Because of the city’s many historical monuments and a plethora of ancient ruins and tombs in the vicinity, tourism has been an important component of the local economy, and the Xi’an region is one of China's most popular tourist destinations.
The city has many important historical sites, and some are ongoing archaeological projects, such as the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army. There are several tumuli (burial mounds), the tombs of the Zhou Dynasty kings located in the city. Xi'an also contains some 800 royal mausoleums and tombs from the Han Dynasty, with some of them yielding hundreds of sculpted clay soldiers, and remains of sacrificial temples from the Han era. The city has numerous Tang Dynasty pagodas and is noted for its history museum and its stele forest, which is housed in an 11th-century Confucian temple containing large stone tablets from various dynasties.
Some of the most well-known sites in Xi'an are:
It was improved during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). First of all, the feather-stuffed ball was replaced by an air-filled ball with a two-layered hull. Also, two different types of goalposts emerged: One was made by setting up posts with a net between them and the other consisted of just one goal post in the middle of the field. Chang'an was filled with cuju football fields, in the backyards of large mansions, and some were even established in the grounds of the palaces...The level of female cuju teams also improved. Records indicate that once a 17-year-old girl beat a team of army soldiers. Cuju football became popular amongst the scholars and intellectuals, and if a courtier lacked skill in the game, he could pardon himself by acting as a scorekeeper.Professional sports teams in Xi'an include:
Xi'an is also the Chinese Boxing training base for national team.
Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.