Xi'an, the historical city, was called Chang'an in ancient times, and is now the capital of Shaanxi province.
Xi'an is situated in the centre of Weihe Plain with the towering and verdant Mt.Qinling in the south, with the meandering and rolling Beishan mountain system in the north and eight rivers around it, all of which are at Guang Zhong Plain (the centre of passes). Historically, it was famous for being called "a gold city stretching a thousand li" with its fertile soil, mild climate, adequate rainfall and rich products.
Xi'an has a long history. Since the earliest societies, humanity lived and multiplied here. It served as a capital for twelve dynasties, including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang dynasties, spanning over 1120 years. It became the oriental cultural centre of the Silk Road.
Many dynasties kept the city beautiful and magnificent. More than two hundred and seventy palaces and temples, for example, were built in the Qin dynasty, in the Han dynasty the "Three Han Palaces", namely Changle, Weiyang, Jianzhang Palaces, and numerous other palaces and watch towers were built. In the City of Chang'an of the Sui and Tang ynasties,luxurious palaces sprang up like tree, of which Taiji, Daming and Xingqing Palaces and the forbidden garden of the Tang dynasty to the north of the town were very large. Now, from these architectural sites people still can imagine the general picture of what Chang'an City was like, then. All the emperors of the Qin, Han, Tang and other dynasties had their magnificent mausoleums built. Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum at the foot of Lishan Hill in Lintong county, for example, is the earliest example of a grand mausoleum for an emperor in ancient China. The twelve emperors of the Western Han dynasty were mostly buried on the plateau to the north of the Weihe River. Their tomb-mounds were man-made and quite imposing, but emperors of the Tang dynasty began to have their tombs constructed into hills. They are scattered in the counties to the north of the Weihe River and called the "Eighteen Tang Mausoleums". In front of these mausoleums were erected huge stone carvings, while inside them were exquisite funeral objects and colourful murals, a feast for one's eyes. Some of the monasteries and Buddhist pagodas constructed in many dynasties have remained well preserved, including the most famous ones, as the Big Wild Goose (Da Yan) Pagoda in Ci'en Temple and the Small Wild Goose (Xiao Yan) Pagoda in Jianfu Temple. The bronze wares of ancient China are an important example of the splendid culture that reflect this slave society. Feng and Hao in the Xi'an area, which were the capitals of the Western Zhou dynasty, have been acclaimed as "the Home of the Bronze wares", as a wealth of bronze items unearthed from there, over the years. It was quite popular to put up stone tablets in front of tombs to record the merits and achievements of the departed, in many dynasties, and a great deal of stone tablets and calligraphy data remain to this day. So Xi'an is also famous for being "the Home of Calligraphy".
Today's Xi'an is the biggest industrial city and cultural centre in Northwest China. There are seven districts of Beilin, Xincheng, Yanta, Baqiao, Weiyang Yanliang, Lianhu and six counties of Chang'an, Lintong, Gaolin under the jurisdiction of the municipal government. Xi'an covers a total area of over 9700 square kilometres, and has a population of over 5200000.