Location/Culture Reports

Location Report – Xi’an, China

Setting: The thriving city of Xi’an (population: 6 million) is located in the southern part of GuanZhong Plain in Shaanxi province, with the Qinling Mountains to the north and the Weihe River to the south. Rich in architectural and cultural history, the region is now known for its manufacturing prowess and commitment to education and training.
The area now known as Xi’an has a very long history that includes the “Lantian Man,” who lived some 600,000 years ago.
History: The area now known as Xi’an has a very long history that includes the “Lantian Man,” who lived some 600,000 years ago. Early settlements by Neolithic people occurred around 5,000 BC. This matriarchal society was based on farming, and was prosperous due to the fertile lands renewed by the annual flooding cycles of the nearby rivers.

In 221 BC, Ying Zheng (259-210 BC) merged a bunch of neighboring states under his rule and named himself the First Emperor of Qin at the age of 13. Shortly thereafter, he began work on his tomb, which continued for the next 39 years. Everything about the tomb is on a huge scale; it covers nearly 22 square miles and includes terra-cotta models of over 8,000 warriors, each of them unique. The work is estimated to have taken 700,000 workers to complete; thousands of the workers were buried within the tomb. A ruler with an iron fist, Zheng had 460 Confucian scholars who spoke out against his excesses burned alive. He did invest in infrastructure, building roads and canals to connect the disparate parts of his kingdom.

Years later, the Han Emperor Wudi heard tales of a rich empire to the west in India, and sent an emissary in 119 BC to check out the region for trade. Silk from the Xi’an region was an immediate and immense hit, and thus began the history of the Silk Road, which eventually stretched all the way to the Roman Empire. The connection had an immediate effect on art, architecture, farming, and industry. New products included the import of fine horses, which changed the way of life in this region forever. Religion in the form of Buddhism also infiltrated the Chinese society from the west, and was firmly entrenched by the 7th Century AD. Xi’an became a major center for commerce and trade, and by the Middle Ages was one of the largest cities in the world, rivaling Rome and Constantinople.

Climate & Nature: The GuanZhong Plain has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons; it is cold and dry in winter and hot in summer with a rainy season in July through September. Fertile farmland and abundant rivers on the plain provide access to irrigation facilities and makes farming a productive way of life in this region. Xi’an lies in the south-central region of the plains, surrounded by water and hills. Mount Huashan, to the east of Xi’an, is one of the most famous mountains in China.
Xi’an today has moved somewhat away from its agricultural past, and is now a major center for manufacturing, industry, and education.
The People: Xi’an today has moved somewhat away from its agricultural past, and is now a major center for manufacturing, industry, and education. The region is still a center of silk embroidery and an exporter of clothing, furniture, and electronic goods. Emperor Qin’s Terra-cotta army was rediscovered in 1974, and since then the region has been a huge draw to tourists and archaeologists the world over. The collection was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritage sites.

In general in China, there is a large gap in literacy rates, male: 95.1% vs. female: 86.5%, and the life-expectancy is 72 years. Access to health care and education varies by region.

Interesting fact: A classic Chinese story, The Journey to the West, is based on the quest of the monk Xuan Zang. He spent 18 years studying Buddhism in India and returned to Xi’an in 1652. His story is the basis for many folktales and even an opera.

For further reading:
Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses
Warrior Tours