|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Shaanxi (pinyin: Shǎnxī; 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.
Origin of name
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 known as Sanmenxia.
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 kms 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.
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.