Xi'an was the capital intermittently for l,183 years of 11 imperial dynasties, including the Western Zhou (of the ritual bronzes),the Qin (of the Great Wall and terracotta army), the Western Han (of the jade burial suits), the Sui (of the Grand Canal), and the Tang -ah, the Tang! Commerce on the Silk Road thrived west of here to the Mediterranean and beyond then. (See Silk Road.).
In spite of the occasional invasions and sackings by rebels and tribesmen, Xi'an, then named Chang’an (Everlasting Peace), reached its peak in the Tang, when the population was nearly two million. It was one of the world’s largest cities, with walls measuring 36 km in circumference. It declined because of late debauchery and corruption, the eunuchs ruling the court, and increase powerful governors-general controlling the provinces. In 906，one of the last Tang emperors allowed one of his generals to take complete charge while he enjoyed his lady love. Xi'an rolled downhill from there on, following the fortunes, also, of the Silk Road. Read Cooney and Alteri’s marvelous novel about this period, The Court of the Lion.
A short-lived peasant regime made Xi'an a capital again in the 17th century, but it never regained its past glory. Xian did, however, continue to be a tourist resort and destination for religious pilgrimages because of its Buddhist roots. In 1900, when the Empress Dowager fled Beijing, she went to Xian.
In 1936, one of his top officers, known as the Young Marshall, kidnapped Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek here in what is known as the Xian incident. They forced him to cooperate with the Communists against the Japanese. The Communists subsequently set up a liaison office here which is now the Museum of the Eighth Route Army. On May 20, 1949, the Communists took over the city.
The altitude is 400 meters. The hottest weather is 40′Cin July; the coldest is -14′C in January. Rain falls all year round, but especially July through early September with an annual precipitation of 550-770 mm. The best weather is May-June when the pomegranates are in bloom, and September-October. The air can be badly polluted at times but the government is taking measures to improve it. The total population is over six million, 3.6 million urban
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