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Chang'an was the capital of ancient China of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace"; yet after its fall in the year 23 AD, the old name was restored. During the Ming Dynasty, the name was changed to its present name Xi'an, meaning "Western Peace".
The imperial city of Chang'an during the Han Dynasty was in northwest of today's Xi'an. During the Tang Dynasty, the area to be known as Chang'an included the area inside the Ming Xi'an fortification, plus some small areas to its east and west, and a major part of its southern suburbs. The Tang Chang'an was 8 times the size of the Ming Xi'an. During this time Chang'an was one of the largest and most populous cities in the world. Around 750 A.D. Chang'an was called a "million people's city" in Chinese records, while modern estimates put it at around 800,000–1,000,000 within city walls.
- (常安, pronounced the same way in Mandarin Chinese)
- (a)Tertius Chandler, Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census, Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1987. ISBN 0-88946-207-0. (b) George Modelski, World Cities: –3000 to 2000, Washington DC: FAROS 2000, 2003. ISBN 0-9676230-1-4. However, Charles Benn (Benn, 46), Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James Palais (Ebrey, 93) assert that Chang'an and the surrounding jurisdictions of the suburban countryside (the metropolitan area of Chang'an) had a potential population size of around 2,000,000 people. According to the census in the year 742 recorded in the New Book of Tang, 362,921 families with 1,960,188 persons were counted in Jingzhao Fu (京兆府), the metropolitan area including small cities in the . (see New Book of Tang, vol. 41 (Zhi vol. 27) Geography 1.)
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- Xiong, Victor Cunrui (2000). Sui-Tang Chang’an: A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies.