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Xian Introduction

terracotta warriors and horsesPreviously known as Chang'an in history, Xi'an (meaning "West Peace" in Chinese) is located in central Shaanxi, at a river valley along the Yellow River . The city of Xi'an (population 6 million) was the first Chinese city to open up its doors to the ancient world, not in 1980 under the "Open Door" policy, but in fact during the Tang dynasty (618-907) when Xi'an boomed as the first stop on the Silk Road. Over a period of more than 2000 years, Xi'an was the capital for eleven dynasties. Along with Rome and Constantinople, this city was a world leader in culture and trade and played a vital role in bridging the gap between east and west.

The culture of Xi'an is inherited from the traditions of one of the world's earliest civilizations. Among the many dynasties, Xi'an was capital to, Qin Dynasty, the first empire of China; Tang, the Summit of China's ancient history, have left the city with the most abundant heritages.

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses of the Qin period, an underground army of the first emperor defending his afterlife, is regarded as "the eighth wonder of the world". Tang Dynasty has endowed Xi'an even more relics and spread its fame to the West via the Silk Road. The surviving evidence like Wild Goose Pagoda, Huaqing Hot Spring, Famen Buddhist Temple can all date back to that glorious era. the city wall, dating from the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), is still visible in places. It is the site of several educational institutions and numerous temples and pagodas. It has a large Muslim quarter which is the home to the beautiful 1,360 year old Great Mosque of Xi'an.

The total area of Xi'an is 10,000sq.km. The population has just broken through 8 million; about 5 million people live in the city area. It is the largest and most developed city in the central to northwestern part of China and is ranked among the 10 largest cities in the nation. There is so much to see in and around Xi'an to keep even the most energetic visitor busy for a week or two. This makes Xi'an one of the most pleasant cities to get acquainted with Chinese culture and history - a destination for tens of thousands of foreign and Chinese tourists alike every year.

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It is easy to see why Wulingyuan is proclaimed to be the setting for the movie Avatar. The spectacular sandstone peaks and the lush vegetation make it seem like a paradise on earth.


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