Historical Introduction to Xi’an, China

Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities. Archeological evidence suggests the area was populated over a half million years ago. Xi’an is also one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. In approximately 1051 BC, this became the twin cities of Feng and Hao, the capital of Western Zhou. After King Nan of Zhou was deposed by the Qin dynasty, Emperor Qin Shi Huang created his Western Han capital here in 221 BC. He named it Chang’an meaning Perpetual Peace. For nearly 1,600 years, successive dynasties gave the city their own name. Finally, in 1369, the Ming dynasty called it Xi’an (Western Peace). For over 2,000 years, the city experience cycles of prosperity and decline. Much of its success was due to being the eastern terminus for the Silk Road, a major trade route from the 2nd century BC until the 18th century. Today, this capital city of Shaanxi Province has a metro population of nearly 13 million Han Chinese. Their economy is booming thanks to strong manufacturing and service industries. Tourism is a major contributor. About 40 million domestic and foreign visitors arrive each year to explore the historical sites created by 13 dynasties. One of them is the Xi’an City Wall shown here at night.

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