—  Prefecture-level city  —
Yan'an in Shaanxi
Yan'an is located in China
Location in China
Coordinates: 36°36′N 109°29′E / 36.6°N 109.483°E / 36.6; 109.483Coordinates: 36°36′N 109°29′E / 36.6°N 109.483°E / 36.6; 109.483
Country China
Province Shaanxi
 – Total 37,000 km2 (14,285.8 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 – Total 2,150,800
 – Density 58.1/km2 (150.6/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Licence plates 陕J
Website http://www.yanan.gov.cn/

Yan'an (Chinese: 延安; pinyin: Yán'ān; Wade–Giles: Yen-an), is a prefecture-level city in the Shanbei region of Shaanxi province in China, administering several counties, including Zhidan County (formerly Bao'an), which served as the Chinese communist capital before the city of Yan'an proper took that role.

Yan'an was near the endpoint of the Long March, and became the center of the Chinese communist revolution from 1936 to 1948. Chinese communists celebrate Yan'an as the birthplace of the revolution.


Administrative divisions

Yanan mcp.png
# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2004 est.) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
1 Baota District 宝塔区 Bǎotǎ Qū 400,000 3,556 112
2 Yanchang County 延长县 Yáncháng Xiàn 150,000 2,295 65
3 Yanchuan County 延川县 Yánchuān Xiàn 180,000 1,941 93
4 Zichang County 子长县 Zǐcháng Xiàn 240,000 2,405 100
5 Ansai County 安塞县 Ānsài Xiàn 160,000 2,984 54
6 Zhidan County 志丹县 Zhìdān Xiàn 130,000 3,781 34
7 Wuqi County 吴起县 Wúqǐ Xiàn 130,000 3,776 34
8 Ganquan County 甘泉县 Gānquán Xiàn 80,000 2,288 35
9 Fu County 富县 Fù Xiàn 150,000 4,185 36
10 Luochuan County 洛川县 Luòchuān Xiàn 200,000 1,886 106
11 Yichuan County 宜川县 Yíchuān Xiàn 110,000 2,945 37
12 Huanglong County 黄龙县 Huánglóng Xiàn 50,000 2,383 21
13 Huangling County 黄陵县 Huánglíng Xiàn 120,000 2,288 52


In medieval China, Yan'an was once called Yanzhou, a location of strategic military importance for the Chinese empire and Tanguts of the Western Xia Dynasty. It was once successfully defended by the Song Dynasty (960–1279) era Chinese scientist, statesman, and general Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD). However, it was eventually taken over by the Tanguts in 1082 once Shen's defensive victories were marginalized and sacrificed by the new Chancellor Cai Que (who handed the city over to the Tanguts as terms of a peace treaty). Yan'an and the whole of Shaanxi were taken over by the Mongols in the late 1220s, only after their leader Genghis Khan had died during the siege of the Western Xia capital in 1227. The city was maintained by the successive Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), as well as the Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the city fell into the hands of the newly-created Republic of China.

Red Capital

Mao with visiting foreign journalists in 1944

In December 1936, at the start of the Second United Front, Yan'an was taken over by the Chinese Communists.[1] They had arrived in the area in October 1935 after making the famous Long March from Jiangxi. When Edgar Snow went there in 1936, it was under Kuomintang control and a Red army siege had recently been lifted.[2] Unknown to him at the time, there had also been contacts there between the Communists and the generals who later staged the Xi'an Incident. Snow actually met Mao at Bao'an (Pao An).

Having rebelled against Chiang, the local warlords decided to hand over Yan'an to the Communists, who were now allies. They pulled out and the Red Army walked in without a fight. This is described by Agnes Smedley in her book Battle Hymn of China. She was in Xi'an at the time and got to Yan'an shortly after the take-over.

From 1937, Yan'an became the seat of the communist government of what became known as the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region. It became the center for intensive training of party members and army troops. In 1941, Mao Zedong put special influence on a series of training programs to "correct unorthodox tendencies" and essentially mold the peasantry to the communist model. One of the first CPC programs launched was the Yan'an Rectification Movement.

Conference room; tourists can rent and dress in Chinese Red Army garb

World War II

During the Second World War almost all buildings, except a pagoda, were destroyed by Japanese bombing, and most inhabitants took to living in yaodongs, artificial caves or dugouts carved into hillsides which were traditional dwellings in Shaanxi. While Yan'an was the center of Chinese communist life many prominent Western journalists including Edgar Snow and Anna Louise Strong met with Mao Zedong and other important leaders for interviews. Politically, Yan'an symbolizes for many a utopian period in modern China's history where Chinese communists sought to realize their idealized vision of life, culture, and social justice, and thus stands for a former "golden age" when communist principles and ideals were actively pursued by many sincere, youthful supporters.

During the Second World War, Yan'an played host to the United States Army Observation Group, also known as the Dixie Mission. A joint military and civilian mission, it was sent to establish official ties with the Communists and explore possible plans of cooperation against the Japanese. The Americans had a presence in Yan'an from 1944 to 1947.

Later history

Yan'an was briefly captured by the Kuomintang forces in the Civil War. The Communist leadership learned of a planned attack in advance and decided to pull out. From then until their capture of Beijing they were usually based somewhere else, often with a mobile headquarters.

Geography and climate

Yan'an has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa) that borders on a steppe climate (Köppen BSk), with cold, dry, and moderately long winters, and hot and somewhat humid summers. Spring and autumn are short transition seasons in between. Monthly mean temperatures range from −5.5 °C (22.1 °F) in January to 23.1 °C (73.6 °F) in July, for an annual mean of 9.9 °C (49.8 °F). The area receives 511 millimetres (20.1 in) of precipitation and nearly 2450 hours of bright sunshine per year.

Climate data for Yan'an (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.2
Average low °C (°F) −11
Precipitation mm (inches) 3.0
humidity 53 52 54 48 51 59 70 74 74 69 63 57 60.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.2 3.2 5.2 6.2 7.5 9.0 13.3 11.8 10.2 7.1 3.8 2.1 81.6
Sunshine hours 194.3 172.7 194.3 220.7 247.1 239.5 222.1 212.9 183.4 190.4 185.2 185.9 2,448.5
Source: China Meteorological Administration



  • China Yan'an Executive Leadership Academy: training on revolutionary traditions and conditions in the country

See also


  1. ^ Mao Tse Tung Ruler of Red China by Robert Payne, page 175
  2. ^ Red Star Over China, by Edgar Snow. Page 42

External links

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