The northern part of Shaanxi is a plateau. The area is thickly covered with loess, a fertile, yellowish soil deposited by the wind. Plains stretch across the center of the province. Mountains stand in the south. The Huang He (Yellow River) forms Shaanxi’s eastern border with Shanxi Province. Part of the Great Wall of China stands in northern Shaanxi.
People have lived in Shaanxi for thousands of years. A village found at Banpo, near Xi’an, dates to about 4500 B.C. The area served as the capital during many dynasties (series of rulers from the same family) over a period of more than 2,000 years. Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor and the founder of the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.), lies buried near Xi’an. The famous terra-cotta army of Xi’an forms part of his tomb complex.
Mao Zedong’s Long March ended in Shaanxi. The Communists made this 6,000-mile (9,700-kilometer) march through China to escape Chinese Nationalist forces in 1934 and 1935. Yan’an, in northern Shaanxi, was the headquarters of China’s Communist Party until 1947.