Ya-an : China

Pinyin Ya'an city in west-central Szechwan sheng (province), China. Ya-an is situated in the mountainous western border of the Szechwan Basin. It is a communications centre near the crossing of two main routes—one running west to K'ang-ting and to Tibet and another running north–south from Ch'eng-tu to the southwest.

Established as the seat of a county under the Ch'in (221–206 BC) and Han (206 BC–AD 220) dynasties, it was later abandoned to the Mongols. Retaken by the Chinese in the late 5th century, it became in 604 the seat of Ya Prefecture, whence it derived its modern name. It was, however, little more than a frontier garrison protecting the western approaches to Szechwan from Tibet. Known as Ya-chou, or Ya-chou Prefecture, throughout Ming (1368–1644) and Ch'ing (1644–1911) times, it became the county of Ya-an in 1912. In 1939 it was placed in the new province of Hsi-k'ang. Under Communist rule it replaced K'ang-ting in 1950 as capital of Hsi-k'ang, but, when the latter province was abolished in 1955, it again became part of Szechwan.

The city is a traditional market for the tea grown in quantity in the surrounding agricultural area; the tea is cured and prepared in the city. It is also a market for trade in medicinal herbs and animal products. From nearby Tao-fu, iron ore of high quality is shipped to the industrial city of Chungking. Ya-an has small-scale iron manufacture, using local anthracite for fuel. The city also has tanneries, mica and asbestos plants, and small engineering works producing farm tools and repairing and maintaining automobiles and machinery. Pop. (1985 est.) 86,000.

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