Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi Province in the People's Republic of China. It is a sub-provincial city located in the centre of the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China.
One of the oldest cities in China, Xi'an is the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi'an is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of inland China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi'an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational centre of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China's space exploration program.
Xi'an currently holds sub-provincial status, administering 9 districts and 4 counties. As of 2015 Xi'an has a population of 8,705,600 and the Xi'an-Xianyang metropolitan area has a population of 13,569,700. It is the most populous city in Northwest China, as well as one of the three most populous cities in Western China.
Xi'an lies on the Guanzhong Plain in the south-central part of Shaanxi province, on a flood plain created by the eight surrounding rivers and streams. The city has an average elevation of 400 metres (1,312ft) above sea level and an annual precipitation of 553mm (21.8 in). The urban area of Xi'an is located at 34°16?N 108°56?E. The Wei River provides potable water to the city.
The city borders the northern foot of the Qin Mountains (Qinling) to the south, and the banks of the Wei River to the north. Hua Shan, one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, is located 100km (62 mi) away to the east of the city. Not far to the north is the Loess Plateau.