Yan'an is currently a Prefecture-level city administering several counties, including Zhidan, formerly Bao'an, which served as the Chinese communist capital before the city of Yan'an proper took that role.
After the Long March Yan'an become the area for intensive training of party members and army troops. In the troops, women dressed as men would because they felt that they should not have to look like women. Raping of the villagers from the army was virtually unheard of due to the army's discipline. In 1941, Mao put special influence on a series of training programs to "correct unorthodox tendencies" and essentially mold the peasantry to the communist model. One of the first CPC program launched was the Yan'an Rectification Movement.
During the Second World War almost all buildings, except a pagoda, were destroyed by Japanese bombing, and most inhabitants took to living in yaodongs, artificial caves or dugouts carved into hillsides which were traditional dwellings in Shaanxi. While Yan'an was the center of Chinese communist life many prominent Western journalists including Edgar Snow and Anna Louise Strong met with Mao Zedong and other important leaders for interviews. Politically, Yan'an symbolizes for many a utopian period in modern China's history where Chinese communists sought to realize their idealized vision of life, culture, and social justice, and thus stands for a former "golden age" when communist principles and ideals were actively pursued by many sincere, youthful supporters.
During the Second World War, Yan'an played host to the United States Army Observation Group, also known as the Dixie Mission. A joint military and civilian mission, it was sent to establish official ties with the Communists and explore possible plans of cooperation against the Japanese. The Americans had a presence in Yan'an from 1944 to 1947.