Xi'an (UK: /ˌʃiːˈæn/ shee-AN, US: /ˌʃiːˈɑːn/ shee-AHN; Chinese: [ɕí.án] (About this soundlisten)), also known as Sian, is the capital of Shaanxi Province. A sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China, it is one of the oldest cities in China, the oldest prefecture capital and one of the Chinese 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, Northern Zhou 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 1980s, as part of the economic growth of inland China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi'an has re-emerged as a cultural, industrial, political and educational centre of the entire central-northwest region, with many facilities for research and development, national security and space exploration. Xi'an currently holds sub-provincial status, administering 11 districts and 2 counties. As of 2018 Xi'an has a population of 12,005,600 and the Xi'an–Xianyang metropolitan area a population of 12.6 million. It is the most populous city in Northwest China, as well as the third most populous city in Western China, the other two being Chongqing and Chengdu. In 2019, it was named as one of the 7 main emerging megacities, or megalopolises, in China and designated as a metropolis that also consists of areas surrounding the city itself. According to a 2020 report from the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC), Xi’an ranks second (Beta-) of three tiers in terms of the city's international economic connectedness, an increase from lowest tier (Gamma+) last year.
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