Situated in the fertile Weihe Plain in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, Xi'an, the capital of northwest Shaanxi province, is a thriving city of nearly eight million people and the gateway to western China.
Xi'an lies at the heart of China's Culture and the beginning of the historic Silk Road trading route through Central Asia to the West. As one of the six ancient capitals of the world's most populous nation, Xi'an has served as the seat of 13 imperial dynasties stretching over a period of 1,120 years.
Xi'an has become one of China's top tourist destinations, famous for world-class historic attractions including the Terracotta Army of the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the Big Goose Pagoda and the Ming city walls. Its colourful traditional folk art, distinctive local fare and impressive collection of cultural relics, make Xi'an a magnet for visitors from home and abroad.
Just outside the city, near the village of Banpo, is the site of a Neolithic village which was occupied between about 4500 BCand 3750 BC. It is the biggest and best-preserved site of the Yangshao culture discovered so far.
Xi'an has also played a key role in modern Chinese history. Here, on December 12, 1936, Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek, the president of the Guomindang (KMT) Party, was captured by his own generals and forced to sign an alliance with Mao Zedong's Communist Party to fight the Japanese army that had invaded the country. The event became known as the Xi'an Incident.
Today, Xi'an lies at the heart of the government's strategy to develop the country's western region. The city has developed a solid industrial base of companies in aviation, aerospace, electronics, pharmaceuticals, communications and power generation.
Xi'an is home to one of China's leading universities ĘC Xi'an Jiaotong University. The institution, along with its affiliate, Xi'an Siyuan Vocational University, is playing a key role in providing education to help the economic and social development of the nation's vast western territories.
Xi'an has become one of China's most developed cities in terms of public and private education. By the end of 2005, the city was home to 82 universities and higher education institutions with a total of more than 800,000 students. The provincial capital has played a leading role in the development of private education in China. Among the nation's top 20 private universities, five, including Xi'an Siyuan, are located within the city's administrative jurisdiction.