Xianyang Museum
Location of Xianyang Prefecture within Shaanxi
Location of Xianyang Prefecture within Shaanxi
Coordinates (Xianyang municipal government): 34°19′48″N 108°42′32″E / 34.3299°N 108.7088°E / 34.3299; 108.7088Coordinates: 34°19′48″N 108°42′32″E / 34.3299°N 108.7088°E / 34.3299; 108.7088
Country People's Republic of China
Province Shaanxi
Municipal seat Qindu District
 • Prefecture-level city 10,213 km2 (3,943 sq mi)
 • Urban
523 km2 (202 sq mi)
 • Prefecture-level city 5,096,001
 • Density 500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density 1,800/km2 (4,700/sq mi)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
ISO 3166 code CN-SN-04
Website www.xianyang.gov.cn

Xianyang (Chinese: 咸阳; pinyin: Xiányáng) is a prefecture-level city in central Shaanxi province, situated on the Wei River a few kilometers upstream (west) from the provincial capital of Xi'an. Once the capital of the Qin dynasty, it is now integrated into the Xi'an metropolitan area, one of the main urban agglomerations in western China, with more than 7.17 million inhabitants, its built-up area made of 2 urban districts (Qindu and Weicheng) was 945,420 inhabitants at the 2010 census. It has a total area of 10,213 square kilometres (3,943 sq mi).


Xianyang was among the capital city's environs during the Western Zhou dynasty, and was made the capital of the state of Qin in 350 BC during the Warring States period before becoming the capital of China during the short-lived Qin dynasty.[1] Because the city lay south of the Jiuzong Mountains and north of the Wei River - both sunlight-rich (yang) orientations - it was named "Xianyang", meaning "fully yang".[1]

Under Duke Xiao of Qin's reign, minister Shang Yang designed Xianyang and in 350 BC organized the relocation of Qin's administration from the old capital Yueyang to the new city, which was then the capital for over 140 years. It was located in the modern day Shaanxi province on the northern bank of the Wei River, on the opposite side of which Liu Bang would later build the Han dynasty capital of Chang'an once he became emperor.

In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang eliminated all six other warring states to establish the first centralized empire in Chinese history. Xianyang became the centre of politics, economy and culture of the Qin empire. Noble families were compelled to move into Xianyang, and the realm's weapons were gathered in the city to be melted and cast into twelve towering statues. The Emperor had a lavish mausoleum built near the capital, complete with his Terracotta Army. This and other large undertakings diverted enormous levels of manpower and resources away from agriculture. Coupled with the state's repressive measures on the population, these factors eventually led to the fall of the Qin dynasty and with it the original city of Xianyang.[2]

Qin Shi Huang expanded Xianyang beyond the walls. Then he built replicas of the palaces of all the conquered states along the Wei River. In 220 BC, he built Xin Palace (新城; Xīnchéng) and later renamed it Apex temple (渭城) to be the earthly equivalent of the apex star (Polaris). He continued with the theme of earth as the mirror of heaven building a network of 300 palaces in the Wei valley connected by elevated roads. In 212 BC, he built the Hilltop Palace (阿房宮; Ēpánggōng).

Shortly after the First Emperor's death in 210 BC revolts erupted. At the beginning of December 207 BC, then King of Qin Ziying surrendered to rebel leader Liu Bang. Liu Bang went on to capture Xianyang, but was forced to hand it over to another rebel leader, Xiang Yu, whose army greatly outnumbered Liu Bang's. Xiang Yu then killed Ziying and burned Xianyang in 206 BC,[3] destroying the sole surviving copies of several banned books that were kept in the royal library.[4]

In 202 BC, after defeating Xiang Yu, Liu Bang built a new city near the old Xianyang and named this new capital Chang'an. The Han-era town of Anling (安陵) was located nearby and houses some of the Han dynasty's mausoleums.

From the end of the 1950s until the middle of the 1990s, archaeologists discovered and excavated a large numbers of Qin era sites in Xianyang, including palaces, workshops and tombs.

Administrative divisions

Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2004 est.) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
Weicheng District 渭城区 Wèichéng Qū 400,000 272 1,471
Yangling District 杨陵区 Yánglíng Qū 140,000 94 1,489
Qindu District 秦都区 Qíndū Qū 450,000 251 1,793
Xingping city 兴平市 Xīngpíng Shì 560,000 496 1,129
Binzhou city 彬州市 Bīnzhōu Shì 330,000 1,202 275
Sanyuan County 三原县 Sānyuán Xiàn 400,000 569 703
Jingyang County 泾阳县 Jīngyáng Xiàn 500,000 792 631
Qian County 乾县 Qián Xiàn 560,000 994 563
Liquan County 礼泉县 Lǐquán Xiàn 460,000 1,017 452
Yongshou County 永寿县 Yǒngshòu Xiàn 190,000 869 219
Changwu County 长武县 Chángwǔ Xiàn 170,000 583 292
Xunyi County 旬邑县 Xúnyì Xiàn 270,000 1,697 159
Chunhua County 淳化县 Chúnhuà Xiàn 200,000 965 207
Wugong County 武功县 Wǔgōng Xiàn 410,000 392 1,046

Chinese Bureau of Statistics lists the urban population of the city at 316,641 (1990 Census), rising to 814,625 (2000 Census), and 835,648 in 2010 Census.[5] Despite being a former national capital, the city suffers from extreme air pollution.




  1. ^ a b 中国古今地名大词典 (in Chinese). Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House. p. 2134. ISBN 9787532617432.
  2. ^ Meyer, Milton Walter. (1997). Asia : a concise history. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 91–95. ISBN 0847680681. OCLC 33276519.
  3. ^ Cotterell. Page 29.
  4. ^ Meyer, Milton Walter. (1997). Asia : a concise history. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 92. ISBN 0847680681. OCLC 33276519.
  5. ^ "China: Provinces and Major Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information". citypopulation.de. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  6. ^ 中国气象数据网 - WeatherBk Data (in Chinese). China Meteorological Administration. Retrieved 2020-04-16.

Further reading

  • Cotterell, Arthur (2007). The Imperial Capitals of China - An Inside View of the Celestial Empire. London, England: Pimlico. ISBN 978-1-84595-009-5. 304 pages.

External links

Preceded by
Capital of China
221 BC-206 BC
Succeeded by