Xi'an, Hsi-an, also spelled Xian, historically Chang’an, also known as Sian, is the capital of Shaanxi Province. A sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China, it is one of the oldest cities in China, the oldest prefecture capital and one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang. Xi'an is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. It is located in the south-central part of the province, at the southern limit of the Loess Plateau. Since the 1980s, as part of the economic revival of inland China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi'an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational centre of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and space exploration. Xi'an currently holds sub-provincial status, administering 9 districts and 4 counties. As of 2018 Xi'an has a population of 12,005,600 and the Xi'an–Xianyang metropolitan area a population of 12.9 million. It is the most populous city in Northwest China, as well as one of the three most populous cities in Western China, the other two being Chongqing and Chengdu. In 2012, it was named as one of the 13 emerging megacities, or megalopolises, in China.
Called Chang'an in ancient times, it is one of the birthplaces of the ancient Chinese civilization in the Yellow River Basin area. As the eastern terminal of the Silk Road and the site of the famous Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, the city has won a reputation all over the world. More than 3,000 years of history including over 1,100 years as the capital city of ancient dynasties, have endowed the city with an amazing historical heritage.
Data and Facts
- Xi’an was the capital of 13 dynasties
- It’s the second most popular of China’s cities for foreigners to visit
- Xi’an, with a history of more than 5,000 years, is one of the most ancient cities in the world
- It is home to many historic relics including the terracotta army and giant wild goose pagoda
- It is the beginning point of the Silk Road
- You can visit Xi'an for 144 hours without a visa
Xian is an administrative center of Shaanxi province located in the North-Western region of China. The sub-provincial city of Xi'an has direct jurisdiction over 11 districts and 2 counties.
The trend of metropolitanization—rapid growth of the largest cities, horizontal sprawl, and pursuit of economic competitiveness—in China has attracted much attention from scholars. Whereas existing research generally portrays local governments as the key agents behind metropolitan-style development, this article emphasizes the active role higher-level governments play in shaping urban growth. I use the case of the Xi’an-Xianyang area in Shaanxi province to explore the political forces behind metropolitanization, tracing efforts since 2000 to build a larger, more integrated Greater Xi’an. I argue that provincial-level authorities in particular favor urban development that is focused on leading cities but crosses different jurisdictions, which helps them reap economic benefits from urban scale while limiting its political costs. Driving development from above is contentious, however, and requires significant clout on the part of provincial governments. In Xi’an, metropolitan growth has accelerated as Shaanxi has become economically and politically stronger, yet urban governance problems have persisted.
As part of the China Western Development policy, Xi’an became a major target for accelerated attention. From 1997 to 2006, the industrial output value of Xi’an's service industry increased at an annual average rate of 13.74 percent, compared to traditional service industries of 0.74 percent, representing a growth from US$8.113 billion to US$25.85 billion.Xi'an is the largest economy of the Shaanxi province, with a GDP of 324.1 billion Yuan in 2010. These include ABB Group, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Coca-Cola, and Boeing.Important industries include equipment manufacturing, tourism, and service outsourcing. The manufacturing industry had an annual output of RMB 36.5 billion, accounting for 44.5 percent of the city's total.Furthermore, as one of China's four ancient capitals,[Xi'an's many cultural sites, including the Terracotta Army, the City Wall of Xi'an, and the Famen Temple, make tourism an important industry as well. In 2010, 52 million domestic tourists visited Xi'an, earning a total income of RMB 40.52 billion. The city's output value from this sector exceeded RMB 23 billion in 2008. Employment in the sector doubled from 1997–2006, from a base of 60,000, and computer consulting also doubled from 16,000 to 32,000.As a result of the importance of the software-outsourcing industry, the city planned construction of a Software New Town, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015 with 30 billion RMB investmentOther major export goods include lighting equipment and automobile parts, while its major import goods are mechanical and electrical products.
Xi’an experienced some slow industrial development after the main east-west rail line reached the city in 1935, but this was curtailed by the Sino-Japanese War . However, beginning in the mid-1950s, Xi’an was a primary focus of expenditures from the central government and since then has been one of China’s major industrialized cities. Among the initial industries established were those manufacturing metallurgical products, chemicals, precision instruments, construction equipment, and processed foods. Subsequent development was directed toward creating regional centres dedicated to manufacturing specific products: the textile district is in the eastern suburban area, electrical machinery is made in the western suburbs, a research and production base for China’s aerospace industry is in the northeastern suburbs, and at the southwestern outskirts of the city is an electronics sector. In addition, as the centre of an important farming region, Xi’an is engaged in agricultural processing, most notably of cotton, wheat, and tea. Tourism—based on the city’s many historical monuments and a plethora of ancient ruins and tombs in the vicinity—has become an important component of the local economy, and the Xi’an region is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Located in the city is the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, housed in a former Confucian temple; it is noted for its Forest of Stelae, an important collection of inscribed stelae and Buddhist sculpture. Other sites of interest in the city include the Little Wild Goose Pagoda, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Temple of Great Good Will, all constructed during the Tang dynasty; the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, built during Ming times; the Great Mosque, founded in 742, its existing buildings dating from the 14th century; and three well-preserved 14th-century city gates in the wall that surrounds the old city.
Major industrial zones in Xi'an include: Xi'an Economic and Technological Development Zone and Xi'an Hi-Tech Industries Development Zone.
The Xi'an Xianyang International Airport is the largest airport in Northwest China. The airport serves as a terminus for many other places in China and Asia.
The metro consists of three lines that provide convenient access to sights like the Ancient City Wall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Banpo Museum.
Two main concentric ring roads encircle the city, as is the fashion in most major Chinese urban areas.
Xi'an also boasts 6 train stations, making it easy to find a connection to your next destination. The Xi'an Railway Station is among the top 8 in the country.
Xi'an has many areas that are easily accessible on foot. In many commercial, residential, educational 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. Electric bikes are popularamong students and offer easy transportation in and around the city for many residents. Line 2, running through the city from north to south , was the first line opened to the public on September 16, 2011.Operations began on September 28, 2011This line is 19.9 kilometres long with 17 stations.
Line 1 opened on September 15, 2013. As a west–east railway, its 19 stations connect Houweizhai and Fangzhicheng. Line 3 runs from northeast to southwest and opened on November 8, 2016. Line 4, which is basically parallel to Line 2 on its east, runs from the North Square of the North Railway Station to south and was available publicly on December 26, 2018.
Eight lines are planned to be finished around 2021. It will mainly service the urban and suburban districts of Xi'an municipality and part of nearby Xianyang City.
The new Xi'an North railway station, situated a few miles to the north, is the station for the high-speed trains of the Zhengzhou–Xi'an High-Speed Railway. With 34 platforms, it is the largest railway station in Northwest China. Construction of the station began on September 19, 2008The station was opened on January 11, 2011.As of May 2012, Xi'an North Station is served only by the fast trains running on the Zhengzhou–Xi'an high-speed railway; one of them continues south to Hankou.
The city's other stations include Xi'an West, Xi'an East, Xi'an South, Sanmincun, and Fangzhicheng railway stations.
Xi'an Railway Station covers 597,000 square metres , has 5 passenger platforms, and 24 tracks. It provides 112 services to 80 000 people daily. Among the destinations served by direct trains from Xi'an are Beijing, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Baoji, and Mount Hua.
The growing economy of Xi'an supports the development of a software industry, and the city is a pioneer in software industry in China. The Xi'an Software Park within the Xi'an Hi-Tech Industries Development Zone has attracted over 1,085 corporations and 106,000 employees as of 2012.[ 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.
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 to 8 products with global competitiveness.
Xi’an is a centre of higher education noted for its technological schools. In all, there are more than 30 universities and colleges in and around the city. In 2008, after the launch of the initial aerospace centre in Shanghai, the PRC is constructing another civil aerospace centre in the Shaanxi province. The State Development and Reform Commission approved the planning of Xi'an National Civil Aerospace Industrial Base on December 26, 2007. The National Civil Aerospace Industrial Base of Xi'an, set to cover 23 km2 , will focus on developing satellites, new materials, energies, IT and other technologies for civil applications.
Zhang Chaoyang , the CEO of SOHU , born and raised in Xi'an, is a prominent leader in the Chinese Internet industry.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
As of 2015 Xi'an has a population of 8.7 million.Compared to the census data from 2000, the population has increased by 656,700 persons from 7.41 million. The population is 51.66 percent male and 48.34 percent female.Among its districts, Yanta has the largest population, with 1.08 million inhabitants.The encompassing Xi'an-Xianyang metropolitan area was estimated by the OECD to have, as of 2010, a population of 12.9 million, of which 5,740,000 is urban.
The majority of Xi'an residents are Han Chinese, who make up 99.1 percent of the city's total population. There are around 81,500 people belonging to ethnic minorities living in Xi'an, including 50,000 Hui people.
During World War II, Xi'an became a destination for many refugees from other provinces of China, especially neighboring Henan Province. Modern Xi'an Jiaotong University was relocated from its original campus in Shanghai.
The culture of Xi'an descends from one of the world's earliest civilizations. The Guanzhong Ren culture is considered the cultural antecedent of Xi'anese; their features are satirized as the «Ten Strangenesses of Guanzhong Ren» . Xi'an is also known for the «Eight Great Sights of Chang'an» , a collection of scenic areas in the region. Xi'an guyue is named for Xi'an. Much like Beijing 1798 and Shanghai 1933, Xi'an has an art district called Textile Town . The most influential religions in Xi'an are the Chinese traditional religion and Taoist schools, represented by many major and minor temples. Among these there are a City God Temple, completely reconstructed in the 2010s, and a Temple of Confucius. Buddhism has a large presence in the city, with temples of the Chinese and Tibetan schools. The first recorded Christian missionary in China was Alopen, a Syriac-speaker, who arrived in Xi'an in 635 along the Silk Road. The Nestorian Stele, now located in Xi'an's Beilin Museum, is a Tang Chinese stele erected in 781 that documents the 150 years of early Christianity in China following Alopen. It is a 279-centimetre-tall limestone block with text in both Chinese and Syriac describing the existence of Christian communities in several cities in northern China. The Daqin Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda in Zhouzhi County of Xi'an, has been suggested to have originally been a Nestorian Christian church from the Tang Dynasty.Xi'an was the first city in China to be introduced to Islam.