Introduction to the History of Shaanxi Province of China (1)
Shaanxi Province of China
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Great Wall of China in Shaanxi Province
China Report - Map of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty
Satellite image of China and North-East Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall of China.
Although the statistics from the Central Government expressly mentions that there are a total of 54 minorities to be found within Shaanxi Province, in reality the Han Nationality accounts for 99.5% of the total population while the minories account for only 0.5%. In other words, there are members of 54 minorities present in the province but there are no larger communities of ethnic groups to be found within this Province of China (P.R.C.).
As Government sources note: the minorities are widely scattered and mainly live in the Guangzhong plain in the central part of the Province.
To be more exact, the number of minority citizens in Xi’an, Baoji, Xianyang, Tongchuan, Weinan and Yangling Demonstration Area (roughly the Wei River Valley) account for 71.53% of the total minority population of Shaanxi Province. The number of minorities in Qinba Mountainous Region of south Shaanxi (Shanbei Region) is slightly lower than that in the Wei River valley and Guanzhong plain. The minority population in the southern cities of Hanzhong, Ankang and Shangluo account for 26.55% of the total number of minorities of the province. The minority population of Yan’an City and Yulin City in north Shaanxi accounts for 1.92% of the total.
The main ethnic minority group to be encountered while traveling in Shaanxi Province are the Hui minority, as they are among the most easily recognizable with their typical Hui hats and the more colorful prayer hats used when visiting the mosque. Others registered are the Mongolians and the Manchu.
Due to the scattering of minority members acoss the Province and the lack of ethnic enclaves a visit to a minority community is not among the main charms of the tourist itenerary in Shaanxi Province.One main jewel of ethnic culture may however be found in the Capital of Xian, where a large quarter of the old walled city centering on the Grand Mosque of Xian is considered the realm of Hui Muslims. Found smack in the center of the old city, a visit to the "Muslim Quarter" of Xi’an is a must for any tourist visiting the provincial Capital.
Full Introduction to Shaanxi Province - Coming Soon !!
Schematic Map depicting the multiple layers of the Great Wall of circling Beijing and North and North-East China.
Image: Rough Schematic Map of China, the Path of the Great Wall and its relation to Cities, Nations, Rivers and the Pathway of the Ancient Silk Road in China with Lanzhou as the crossing point of the Yellow River.
Map Great Wall China - Layers of Dynasties and Era's
A Schematic Map of China and East-Asia, with a super-imposed schematic of the various layers of the Great Wall of China.
Features Pre-Qin Dynasty Wall, Qin Dynasty Wall, Western Han Great Wall of China, the (Northern) Jin Dynasty Great Wall and finally the Ming Dynasty Great Wall as mainly remains today.
Main Features are Names and locations location of Passes on the Great Wall of China, outer layer and inner layer. Includes Shanhai Pass, Huangya Guan (Yellow Cliff) Pass, JiYunGuan Pass, Ningwu Guan Pass, Pingxin Guan, YaMen Guan Pass, Pian Guan Pass, JiaYuGuan pass, YuMen Guan Pass (Jade Gate) and Yang Guan Pass.
Further included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape and main mountain ranges. Updates occur several times a year adding new pass locations and photo-virtual tours of Passes throughout China.
A Full and complete Map of China (PRC) identifying all Language Areas big and small in all Provinces and Autonomous Regions of China.
Map includes Turkic Languages (Uygur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Salar & Uzbek), Mongolian Language and Sub-Divisions (Mongol, Tu, Daur and Dongxian), Tungusic Peoples (Oroqen, Evenki and Xibe) and Languages, Korean, Tajik (Tadzhik), Mon-Khmer (Kawa + Puman (or Pulang)), Hui, Uygur (Uighur), Tibeto-Bhurman Languages, Tai and Miao, Yao and She' Language Area's and Borders. Main Area's and sub-divisions of Han Languages (Northern Mandarin, Eastern Mandarin, South-Western Mandarin and Cantonese) further included. This color-coded ethno-linguistic Map (of 1967 AD) identifies at a glance most ethnic minority regions in China
Map China Ethno-Linguistic / Language Distribution China
General schematic overview of the main Chinese Provinces and their rivers. In the north lies Shaanxi Province which is bordered by the Yellow River in the east and divided into a northern- and a southern half by the Wei River and its wide fertile valley.
Without doubt the main tourist highpoints of Shaanxi Province - no information available.
The north of Shaanxi is by tradition a desperately poor, arid rural region which historically relied almost entirely on agriculture for its sustainance. With an encroaching desert and enduring water scarcity it is mostly a dust bowl. Among current day travelers it is most recognized for its fading but still interesting parts of the Great Wall of China, and also as the location of the former Communist revolutionary base from which Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and the Communist Party constructed their revolution for the nation entire.
Far less well known to international travelers are the hidden historic treasures of Li Zhicheng✧s Palace, the home town and monument to Li the Great and other secluded wonders. No one travels to Tongchuan City for sightseeing. Although remote and mostly forgotten, the counties of Dingbian, Jingbian and Hengshan offer plenty to see and find for those who search. This includes spectacular conflagrations of the Great Wall of China as well as a multitude of hidden temples.
Last and in this case indeed least, is the south of the Province which up to know is not frequently traveled by Foreign Visitors. Mainland Chinese visitors however know how to find and come appreciate the landscapes and wonder of the Han River (Han Shui) of which particularly the upper parts are identified as interesting to visit.
In the 2nd millennium, the old Empire was more divided, and while the Ming Dynasty (1358 AD-1644 AD) once more reunited most of it, it also moved the National Capital moved far eastward to Nanjing City and later northward from there to Beijing. Finding only enemies in the territories of Central Asia in the Ming Era China turned to the sea for transportation, trade and economic development. But only for a little while. Although during the Yongle reign period great overseas diplomatic missions brought the Chinese Civilization to new highpoints, later Emperors made different decisions. China slowly turned inward and left without a functioning Silk Road fortified itself once again behind a Great Wall of China. As we know today, the wall of the Ming Era marked another highpoint of the civilization, that of Nationalism, narrow mindedness and return to traditional values. Meanwhile, no longer the location of the National Capital, the economy of Xian flagged and subsequently, almost the entire province returned to more proven old ways. Nevertheless, the old Capital strategically situated at the bottom of the Wei River always managed to retain its position as regional center of learning and trade, the driver of a regional economy and the gateway to more north-western cities in the hinterland. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD-1911 AD), the city of Xian retained this status and at the very end, in 1900 AD, it even regained some of its Imperial Glory, when during the Boxer War the Empress-Dowager Cixi with the captive Guangxu Emperor in tow, made their ways down for a brief stay at the Huaqing Imperial retreat of Lintung near Xian.
As Wikipedia notes, in the midst of the 19th century, when Foreigners first had the opportunity to traverse the inner lands of the Chinese realm, animal skins, wine, liquor and musk. Although this report mostly reflects the limited knowledge of the foreign writer, with this it is shown that the great thriving economy of the silk road era no longer existed at that time.
As we know from the stories told by China hands, missionaries and other travelers and workers , during the confusion of the warlord era, the anti-Japanese War and the building of the Shaanxi Revolutionary base, in most of the 20th century the economic situation was outright desperate and mass starvation's were not unusual. Those who did make it through the period remember widespread poverty, a lack of communications, the Japanese and Kuomintang economic blockades and most of all, a life of simplicity doing agricultural work in the many villages strewn across the loess plateaux.
Nevertheless however, the city of Xian remained what it had always been, the ancient Provincial Capital and the all important conduit of traffic along the by then withered silk road and other regional roads leading in all directions. As the various traveling tales of now famous westerners in China underpin, anyone who wanted to be anywhere or go anywhere in the west just had to pass through Xian, which even at the worst of times was a glowing treasure of civilization in otherwise often destitute lands.
As one may find, by then Xian had its own railway station adding to its importance as regional lay-over point but also solidifying its foundation of a base for regional logistics, manufacture and industry.
In the second half of the 1930s, while a Communist Rebel Base led by Mao Zedong arose in the loess hills to the north and under duress of a full on Japanese Invasion which had intended to occupy the city, the ancient Capital burdened by refugees became a bustling hub of new developments. Among things, a branch of war industry spawned in the city, as it was one of the inland cities which still lay out of reach of the advancing Japanese Armies. Produces in Xian and nearby towns and areas, aid, supply and also ammunition was sent all over the north and north-east as part of the Kuomindang Republican effort to sustain the Nation under heavy assault.
(Read more in: History of Shaanxi Province)
With the coming of the Peoples Republic of China in the 2nd half of the 20th century, the Chinese economy including that of Shaanxi Province, was transformed and industrialized. Building on its traditional strongpoints the city of Xian became a center of the Oil and Chemical industry, as well as other industries, helping the Nation transform from a largely agricultural base to a more modern industrialized status.
Today, the Province is mainly noted for its high technology industry which includes the production of civilian type aircraft and a strong military component. This industry is mainly situated in Xian City neighboring Xianyang and surrounding areas. In support Xian has its own collection of Educational Institutes as does the city of Baoji.
The other main industry in Shaanxi Province is the energy sector meaning coal, natural gas, oil and also Petrochemical industries. Famously, and notoriously, the northern Shanbei Region of the province has been found to be rich in coal, natural gas and oil. Especially in the recent two decades, while the nation went through an enormous economic boom the north of Shaanxi and with it the Capital of Xian flourished economically. Enormous amounts of coal were extracted from the regions of the loess plateaux bordering on the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, making the town of Daliuta (only miles across the border within Inner Mongolia) an important railway juncture as it is home to the largest coal mine and processing facility in the entire nation. New railroads were built to transport the coal to nearby industrial centers and factories in Xian and Xianyang but also to neighboring Provinces and territories notably the cities of Baotou in Inner Mongolia and Datong in northern Shanxi Province.
In addition to the coal mining boom, the loess plateaux was heavily exploited for both oil and natural gas adding to the energy mix to be delivered to the fellow provinces and cities. Generally speaking, the economy of the province was transformed turning the traditionally poor north into the economic engine of the wider regions including the high end industries in Xian. As would however later be shown, the mining boom could not last and also had its considerable downside in environmental terms. Not only did the economic boom spawn rampant corruption among things turning the north into one of China's Mafia base area's, the drilling and mining also led to a further drainage of available ground waters in turn leaving agricultural villages in the Mu Us Desert areas with polluted or nearly unreachable sources of potable water. Another downside of modern development is the already mentioned high level of air pollution in the city of Xian and the Wei River Valley.
In the current day Shaanxi Province is well underway with its transition process which aims to lessen economical dependence on fossil fuels and the associated heavy industries, while retaining economic vitality through its high tech industry. The new industries are involved in ICT, software creation, civil aviation, military aviation and also aerospace in defense. Xian is a major center of military rockets, military aircraft and vehicles as well as the modern electronics to support and use them on a modern battlefield. As an inheritance from the early years of the Chinese industrial revolution industries in- and around the city of Xian remain important in the production of light machinery, railway equipment, motorycles and engine parts.
In addition, Xian and the surrounding region are noted as among the leading centers of science and development. The city of Xian alone has some 500 institutes involved with advanced research and development in a multitude of scientific fields and some 1000 of these are counted within the Province entire. Xian Institutes are noted in micro-electronics, bio-engineering, pharmaceuticals and software development.
As an extension of the development of cities like Xian and a further strengthening of the economies of the inland provinces as planned by the Central Government under the marching banner ∢Go West Policy∢ the region of Xian and the Guanzhong plain are currently being developed as part of a triangle of cities which are to serve as economic engines for the wider western regions of the Peoples Republic. In the desired situation the city of Xian is to join its strengths with the cities of Chengdu and Chongqing in order to develop a base of high technology industries serving the west and the wider nation.
Helpful schematic map showing the position of Xian relative to the coastal cities, the current National Capital and the ancient silk road extending from Xian westwards into the west and Central Asia beyond.