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Not to be confused with the neighboring province of Shanxi whose capital is Taiyuan.
Shaanxi Province
Name transcription(s)
 • Chinese 陕西省 (Shǎnxī Shěng)
 • Abbreviation (Shǎn)
Map showing the location of Shaanxi Province
Map showing the location of Shaanxi Province
Coordinates: 35°36′N 108°24′E / 35.6°N 108.4°E / 35.6; 108.4Coordinates: 35°36′N 108°24′E / 35.6°N 108.4°E / 35.6; 108.4
Named for (Shan)
西 (, "west")
"Land west of Shan"
(and largest city)
Divisions 10 prefectures, 107 counties, 1745 townships
 • Secretary Zhao Zhengyong
 • Governor Lou Qinjian
 • Total 205,800 km2 (79,500 sq mi)
Area rank 11th
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 37,327,378
 • Rank 16th
 • Density 180/km2 (470/sq mi)
 • Density rank 21st
 • Ethnic composition Han - 99.5%
Hui - 0.4%
 • Languages and dialects Zhongyuan Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin, Jin
ISO 3166 code CN-61
GDP (2014) CNY 1.769 trillion
US$ 288 billion (17th)
 • per capita CNY 47,048
US$ 7,658 (15th)
HDI (2010) 0.695[3] (medium) (14th)
Website (Simplified Chinese)
Simplified Chinese 陕西
Traditional Chinese 陝西
Postal Shensi
Literal meaning "West of Shǎn Pass"

Shaanxi (Chinese: 西; pinyin: About this sound Shǎnxī; postal: Shensi) is a province of the People's Republic of China, officially part of the Northwest China region. It includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qin Mountains (Qinling) across the southern part of this province.


The name Shaanxi means "Land west of Shan". Shǎn was the ancient name for the narrow mountain pass where the Yellow River flows from the Loess Plateau down to the North China Plain. It is now the Shanzhou District of Sanmenxia city in Henan Province.

The Chinese pronunciation of 陕西 (Shǎnxī) and its eastern neighbor 山西 (Shānxī) differ only in tone. As tone marks are often omitted, this would leave the two provinces indistinguishable and, to prevent this ambiguity, the Chinese government adopted the special spelling Shaanxi as an official romanization. The first syllable is derived from the Gwoyeu Romatzyh system of romanization, whereby tone is reflected by change in spelling.[4] The second syllable, 西, would be rendered "shi" in Gwoyeu Romatzyh,[5] but the Chinese government opts to transcribe it as the pinyin-derived "xi," meaning that the official spelling reflects the application of two separate romanization systems. When tone marks are noted, however, it is always rendered as the simple Shǎnxī and not Shǎanxī or Shaǎnxī.

As the spelling is irregular, it is sometimes found hypercorrected to "Sha'anxi". This idea misinterprets the name as three syllables ("Sha·an·xi") rather than its actual two syllables ("Shaan·xi").


Shaanxi is considered one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. Thirteen feudal dynasties established their capitals in the province during a span of more than 1,100 years, from the Zhou Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty.

The province's principal city and current capital, Xi'an, is one of the four great ancient capitals of China and is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, which leads to Europe, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.

Under the Han Dynasty, the Northern Silk Road was expanded to advance exploration and military purposes to the west. This Northern Silk Road is the northernmost of the Silk Roads and is about 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) in length. It connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xi'an to the west over the Wushao Ling Pass to Wuwei and emerging in Kashgar before linking to ancient Parthia.[6]

Under the Ming dynasty, Shaanxi was incorporated into Gansu but was again separated in the Qing dynasty.

One of the most devastating earthquakes in history occurred near Hua Shan, in south-eastern part of Shaanxi Province on January 23, 1556, killing an estimated 830,000 people (see 1556 Shaanxi earthquake).

The end of the short-lived Jiangxi Soviet signalled the beginning of the Long March by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communists to the Shaanxi Soviet at Yan'an.

Pre-historic site[edit]

The Lantian Man site, with hominin fossils of one million years ago, was found in Lantian County in northwestern Shaanxi province, near the city of Xi'an. Scientists classify Lantian Man as a subspecies of Homo erectus. The fossils are displayed at the Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an, China.


The geography of the area is described as being part of the Ordos Desert in the north along the border with Inner Mongolia, the Loess Plateau in the central part of the province, the Qin Mountains (Qinling) running east to west in the south central part, and subtropical climate south of the Qinling. In between the Loess Plateau and the Qinling lies the Wei River Valley, or Guanzhong, a cradle of early Chinese civilization.

Going clockwise, Shaanxi borders Shanxi (E, NE), Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichuan (SW), Gansu (W), Ningxia (NW), and Inner Mongolia (N). In terms of number of bordering provincial-level divisions, Shaanxi ties Inner Mongolia.

Due to its large span in latitude, Shaanxi has a variety of climates. Under the Köppen climate classification, the northern parts, including the Loess Plateau, have either a cold arid (Köppen BWk) or cold semi-arid (Köppen BSk), with cold and very dry winters, dry springs and autumns, and hot summers. The area known as Guanzhong is mostly semi-arid, though there are a few areas with a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa), with cool to cold winters, and hot, humid summers that often see early-season heatwaves. The southern portion is much more humid and lies in the humid subtropical zone, with more temperate winters and long, hot, humid summers. Annual mean temperature is roughly between 8 to 16 °C (46 to 61 °F), with January temperatures ranging from −11 to 3.5 °C (12.2 to 38.3 °F) and July temperatures ranging from 21 to 28 °C (70 to 82 °F).

Besides the provincial capital of Xi'an, other cities include: Baoji, Hanzhong, Lintong, Tongchuan, Xianyang, Yan'an and Ankang.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Shaanxi consists of ten prefecture-level divisions: all prefecture-level cities (including a sub-provincial city):

Map # Name Administrative
Hanyu Pinyin
Shaanxi prfc map.png
Sub-provincial city
1 Xi'an
(Provincial seat)
Weiyang 西安市
Xī'ān Shì
8,467,837 10,096.81
Prefecture-level city
2 Ankang Hanbin 安康市
Ānkāng Shì
2,629,906 23,536.31
3 Baoji Jintai 宝鸡市
Bǎojī Shì
3,716,731 18,116.93
4 Hanzhong Hantai 汉中市
Hànzhōng Shì
3,416,196 27,096.43
5 Shangluo Shangzhou 商洛市
Shāngluò Shì
2,341,742 19,587.31
6 Tongchuan Yaozhou 铜川市
Tóngchuān Shì
834,437 3,884.81
7 Weinan Linwei 渭南市
Wèinán Shì
5,286,077 13,030.56
8 Xianyang Qindu 咸阳市
Xiányáng Shì
4,894,834 10,323.99
9 Yan'an Baota 延安市
Yán'ān Shì
2,187,009 37,030.54
10 Yulin Yuyang 榆林市
Yúlín Shì
3,351,437 42,920.18

The ten prefecture-level divisions of Guizhou are subdivided into 107 county-level divisions (25 districts, 3 county-level cities, and 79 counties).


The politics of Shaanxi is structured in a triple party-government system like all other governing institutions in mainland China.

The Governor of Shaanxi is the highest-ranking official in the People's Government of Shaanxi. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor is considered to have less power than the Shaanxi Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary (中共陕西省委书记), colloquially termed the "Shaanxi CPC Party Chief"; since the Governor is always ranked as the First-Deputy Secretary in the Shaanxi Communist Party of China Provincial Committee.

Shaanxi was established as a provincial government since Qing Dynasty. On 10 January 1950, the People's Government of Shaanxi was established in Xi'an. Ma Minfang was then appointed as the first Governor of Shaanxi.


As of the mid-19th century, Shaanxi exported animal skins, wine, liquor, and musk. Money loans were also common, with Shaanxi business people involved in the Guangzhou loan business. Shaanxi commonly imported European animal skins, watches, Chinese language books, and cloth.[7]

The fossil fuel and high technology sectors compose the two largest industries in Shaanxi province. During 2009, the province ranked third in China for production of coal, natural gas and crude oil.[8] As the home of several of the leading universities and research institutes in Western China, Shaanxi province also plays a major role in China's burgeoning aircraft and aerospace industries, producing more than 50% of the R&D and manufacturing equipment for the country's domestic commercial air industry.[8] Nominal GDP for 2011 was 1,239 billion RMB (US$196.7 billion) and GDP per capita was 21,729 RMB (US$3,179), ranking 17th in the PRC.

Economic and technological development zones[edit]

  • Baoji Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone

Established in 1992, Baoji Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone was approved as a national hi-tech zone by State Council. It has a long-term planned area of 40 km2 (15 sq mi). The transportation system around the zone includes Xi'an-Xianyang International Airport and National Highway 310. Its encouraged industries are auto parts, electronics, IT, pharmaceuticals and bioengineering industries and new materials.[9]

  • Shaanxi Xi'an Export Processing Zone

Shaanxi Xi'an Export Processing Zone (XEPZ) was approved on 21June 2002 by the State Council for its establishment and has been put into operation since 5 April 2004. As the first state-level export processing zone in northwest China, XEPZ has become one of the 7 pioneer EPZs with the function of bonded logistics in China. XEPZ is under the leadership of the Administrative Committee of Xi'an Economic and Technological Development Zone (XETDZ), which is designated by Xi'an municipal government to exercise economic and administrative power within the zone. XEPZ is a special economic zone. By now, there are more than 40 enterprises home and abroad settled in XEPZ, and the pillar industries featuring aviation, machinery, electronics and new energy have taken shape.[10]

The Western Triangle is a new economic zone composing the three major city-level economies of Western China: Xi'an, Chongqing and Chengdu. It is believed that the addition of Xi'an to the Triangle will spur economic growth in the region and also allow the city an opportunity to capitalize on the commercial potential of its high-technology industries.[8]

  • Xi'an Economic & Technological Development Zone

Established in 1993, Xi'an Economic and Technology Development Zone was approved as a national zone in 2000. The zone is only 20 minutes away from Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, and several National Highways pass through here. It has formed four pillar industries, including automotive, electronics, food, and new materials industries. So far, the zone has attracted more than 1,700 enterprises.[11]

  • Xi'an High-tech Industrial Development Zone

Xi'an HTDZ opened its gates in 1991. It was established as a "pivotal location" for investment by high-tech industry companies in central and northwest China. Established in 1991, Xi‘an Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone is a national high-tech zone. The zone is surrounded by several National Highways and it is within 30 minutes of Xi'an International Airport. Furthermore, it is ranked in the top three high-tech zones in China.[12]

  • Xi'an Software Park

Xi'an Software Park, established in December 1998, is the professional park for Xi'an to develop scale software and service outsourcing industries. The park has been appraised as a software industry base under the National Torch Program, national software industry base, national software export base, city demonstrational area of national service outsourcing base and it is one of the four parks with "double bases" of software in China currently. Xi'an Software Park assembles 90% of enterprises engaging in software and service outsourcing in Xi'an. There are nearly 780 companies, of which foreign-funded enterprises account for 170, and over 71,000 jobholders in the park by the end of 2008.[13]

  • Yangling Agriculture Hi-Tech Industrial Zone

Yangling Agriculture Hi-Tech Industrial Zone was approved as a national-level hi-tech development zone by State Council in 1997. It is only 82 km (51 mi) from Xi'an to the east and 70 km (43 mi) from Xi'an Xianyang International Airport.[14]


Nearly all the people in Shaanxi are ethnic Han Chinese, with pockets of Hui population in the northwestern region (adjacent to Ningxia). Shaanxi province is one of the centers of ancient Chinese civilization. The southern part of Shaanxi, known as Guanzhong, where the provincial capital Xi'an is located, is more populated compared to the northern part.


Circle frame.svg

Religion in Shaanxi[15][note 1]

  Christianity (1.57%)
  Other religions or not religious people[note 2] (90.85%)

The predominant religions in Shaanxi are Chinese folk religions, Taoist traditions and Chinese Buddhism. According to surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009, 7.58% of the population believes and is involved in cults of ancestors, while 1.57% of the population identifies as Christian.[15] The reports didn't give figures for other types of religion; 90.85% of the population may be either irreligious or involved in worship of nature deities, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, folk religious sects, and small minorities of Muslims.

Temple of the Chenghuangshen (City God) of Weinan.
Guangren Temple of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in Xi'an.
Road to the stupa of the Famen Temple (Chinese Buddhist).
Temple of Xuanyuan in Huangling, Yan'an.


Shaanxi cuisine


Terracotta Army

Banpo Neolithic village, near Xi'an


  • Shaanxi Radio serves Xi'an and the surrounding Shaanxi province area with music, and news.


Universities and colleges[edit]


Professional sports teams based in Shaanxi include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The data was collected by the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) of 2009 and by the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey (CSLS) of 2007, reported and assembled by Xiuhua Wang (2015)[15] in order to confront the proportion of people identifying with two similar social structures: ① Christian churches, and ② the traditional Chinese religion of the lineage (i. e. people believing and worshipping ancestral deities often organised into lineage "churches" and ancestral shrines). Data for other religions with a significant presence in China (deity cults, Buddhism, Taoism, folk religious sects, Islam, et. al.) was not reported by Wang.
  2. ^ This may include:


External links[edit]